In an age of uncertainty, when unscrupulous politics which feeds on fear, ignorance and the insecurity is on the rise, journalism plays a crucial role in providing reliable and truthful information that people can trust.

This report is a brief survey of published material on news stories that can create fertile ground for generating anti-Muslim bias and it confirms that Muslims are prominent among the victims of bias against minorities. They are targeted by far-right groups, often ignored by insensitive media, and are the victims of hate crime.

Among the problems for journalism identified here, and which require internal reflection and corrective action, are a lack of understanding of minority cultures and newsrooms that are not inclusive. Media often fail to give voice to the victims of discrimination allowing extremist and alarmist opinion to dominate the media narrative on migration and terrorism.

It also reveals that these are troubled times for journalism, with media facing severe financial challenges and newsrooms lacking the capacity to report effectively on the complex realities of modern European society, which is increasingly diverse and where citizens face the uncertainties of economic and social dislocation.

The challenges for journalism are not made easier by the explosion in online communications and the use of technology and the pollution of the public information space by media-savvy propagandists and self-interested groups often targeting the Muslim minority.

In the chaos of the new information age, journalism and the ethics which underpin the work of news media provide an opportunity to counter hate and bias, but this will not happen without a return to the basics of public interest journalism; a fresh commitment to ethical practice; and new investment in the work of journalists.

Above all, this report highlights how around the world, but particularly in Europe, patterns of urbanisation, migration and global communications have made diversity a living reality in the lives of most people.

This diversity creates a climate for better understanding between different communities and carries with it unprecedented opportunities to give added value to people’s lives – to enhance the cultural, social and economic life of society at all levels. But that will not happen automatically.

As this report illustrates, the fragile nature of economies, acts of political terrorism, and rapid population growth in the face of new migration flows, creates uncertainty and fearfulness in which cultural differences between different religions can become a lightning rod for social conflict.

Unless media recognise and embrace the reality of diversity by placing inclusion as a conscious choice in the way that stories are framed and the way that they organise newsgathering, journalism will not be able to play a central role in helping people confront the challenge of change.

Fragmentation and polarisation which are the downside of the new information and communications culture can only be addressed by media and journalism showing fresh commitment to pluralism and diversity.

Media should be the first to recognise that our cultural life flourishes through creative expression and the free exchange of ideas. Journalism and media should nurture co-operation and mutual respect; humanity and respect for others, including through interfaith dialogue, which is one of the key aspects of eliminating the irrational growth of anti-Muslim bias.

The positive role of media and journalism is set out on these pages with examples of good practice and reporting that enriches communities and increases the potential for social cohesion. There is no doubt that the craft of journalism, with public support and fresh internal commitment to inclusion and diversity, can make a difference to the lives of all, including Muslim minorities.


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