British Muslims, Media Guide by Ehsan Masood

By Ehsan Masood

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Negotiations with parents on marriage and other issues can be made more complex by a language barrier. Many younger Muslims in Britain have grown up immersed in the English language and in British culture. It is common among British Pakistani households, for example, to hear parents communicating to their young in Urdu or Punjabi, and children responding in English. The need to find ways of helping children and parents understand each other’s perspectives is one of the factors that has led to the emergence of several dedicated Muslim voluntary groups, both locally and nationally.

The BBC, for example, responded to the criticism in a Glasgow University study of its coverage of the Israel/Palestinian conflict by creating a new and seniorlevel post of Middle East Editor with a published mandate to ‘enhance our audience’s understanding of the Middle East; and to provide extra commentary, focus and analysis’. The corporation has also pledged to increase the proportion of its staff from underrepresented communities. Recruitment is also being addressed by the newspaper industry.

It uses statements from religious texts such as the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad to argue that denial of rights for women come, not from Islam, but from local cultural practices. Islam, according to this argument, does not dictate the detail of how women should dress, or who they should marry – these come from non-Islamic customs and traditions of countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia, the Arab states, Turkey and elsewhere. In Britain, two of the oldest organisations whose members represent such a perspective are the Muslim Women’s Helpline and the An-Nisa Society.

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