Based on detailed study of how the UK media report Islam and the war on terror, Media Workers Against the War has compiled the following set of rules, which we believe should hang on toilet doors throughout medialand:
Rule 1. We have to examine and question Islam so we can understand what’s wrong with it. This is called “investigative reporting”.
Rule 2. If you are unsure what Islam is, highlight whatever looks unfamiliar and odd. This is called “objective reporting”.
Rule 3. If you say someone is a Muslim, this is generally an adequate description of what they are like as a person, i.e. irrational, backward, and slightly unbalanced. This is called “revealing the Islamic mind” or “Islamic personality”.
Rule 4. If some bleach, nail-varnish or castor beans are found on a Muslim, these are deadly bomb-making materials so make sure this is headline news. If the stash is found on a white person it is not worth reporting. This is called “being topical”.
Rule 5. The media are not interested in whether a criminal is black or white as this could be against the Race Relations Act. However if he/she is a Muslim then make sure this is the headline story. This is called “working within the law”.
Rule 6. While Islam clearly has nothing to do with race, Muslims are to blame for stoking up racial tension because they insist on being different from the rest of us. To illustrate the point, if someone says some Asians are involved in violence, make sure you look for a Muslim angle. This is called “setting the news agenda”.
Rule 7. If a woman wears a hejab or niqab, she is making a statement about her rejection of Western liberal values and her submission to Muslim men. She is most likely an extremist and may use her clothes to conceal bombs or escaped terrorists. Media campaigns against the veil are known as “defending women’s rights”.
Rule 8. To be considered “moderate”, Muslims must apologise for their faith and declare their support for the war on terror. But they can slip back into extremism at any moment. It is our job in the media to constantly warn about this danger. This is called “performing a public service”.
Rule 9. To emphasise point (8), make sure you prominently report the views of Muslims who praise the 9/11 attacks. This is called “balanced reporting”.
Rule 10. If Arabs resist Israel, or oppose the USA and Britain in Iraq, it is because of their sectarian, religious convictions, not for any political, civil or social reasons. As for the Afghans, anyone resisting us is clearly a Taliban and therefore basically a fascist.
Rule 11. Fundamentalism equals Islam equals everything-we-must-now-fight-against, as we did with communism during the Cold War or Nazism during World War II. In this battle, anything goes. This is called “defending our values”.
Rule 12. Islam is an archaic religion with archaic practices that do not exist in Christianity. We are advanced, normal, rational, sane, sensible, good, right. They are backward, abnormal, strange, fanatical, bad, wrong.
Rule 13. If you don’t agree with these rules, you are a dangerous extremist and an apologist for terrorism.
If you would like to add to or comment on these rules, please post a comment below.