by Cadi Cliff
On Tuesday night, landmark buildings from Germany to Dubai were lit up with the Belgian flag — a sign of solidarity after the horrific attacks in Brussels. The attacks — two bombs at the city’s main airport, and one at a metro station near the EU headquarters— have killed at least 30 individuals and injured hundreds of others. Daesh (read: the so-called Islamic State) have claimed responsibility for the attacks. It’s the most violent terrorist attack to hit Europe since the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130. But this is not the first, or even 100th, terrorist attack since Paris — though this certainly will be reported on by the Western media far more than the rest combined.
Since Paris there have been hundreds of terrorist attacks worldwide. Attacks that didn’t result in tricolour Facebook profile pictures; attacks that didn’t lead to projected flags on lumps of architecture. Their narratives are only a headline, barely breaking. The descriptions are factual, not empathetic. There is no footage of candlelight vigils played on a loop on the news outlets. The shock factor simply isn’t there for the media splash if it’s a country that gets attacked again and again and again.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
The series of coordinated sexual assaults and robberies across Cologne on New Year’s Eve, prompted an outcry from the media when it came to light that a majority of the perpetrators were refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. A steady stream of articles surfaced examining and criticising Angela Merkel’s mantra of “refugees welcome”, all of them reeking with an infuriatingly smug “I told you so”. The tabloids dealt with the news with as little finesse as you’d expect—publishing quotes from questionable sources about how some refugee was overheard to be describing western women as sex objects (as if this was somehow representative of the opinions of all refugees). Others have taken a more sympathetic approach, pointing out that these refugees probably didn’t understand our esteemed cultural practice of not robbing and sexually assaulting people.
Amidst all of this was a cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo depicting Alan Kurdi, the drowned toddler whose body was photographed washed up on a beach in Turkey. This haunting image has come to represent the plight of refugees. In this particular cartoon he was portrayed to be all grown up and groping a woman in Germany. Rightfully, this elicited a furious media backlash.
by Jonathan Lee
Prime Minister Erdoğan was speaking in reaction to the Obama administration identifying Turkey as a moderate Islamic country. The blunt statement challenges much of the narrative coming from Western governments, and forces the West to question the validity of the term as well as another of its favourite loaded words: ‘Extremism’.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the heavily sidelined Boko Haram massacre at Baga, the media’s use of choice words like ‘extremism’, ‘radicalism’, ‘fundamentalism’, and ‘Islamism’ has once once again been unleashed in a daily barrage on our television and computer screens. The corresponding rise of Islamophobia, which was already latent in the West, has reached even higher levels, resulting in liberals, apologists, and leftists having to try and stem the tide of what is sometimes wanton bigotry and racism. An oft deployed tool of argument is the careful labelling and distinction between ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘extremism’, usually in the vein of ‘moderate Muslims are not to blame, extremism is’.
by Adam Edwards
On February 10th the lead-panelled windows of Norwich’s Ihsan Mosque were smashed by vandals unknown. The mosque on Chapelfield East was founded in the 1970s, and was the first in the UK to be established by British converts to Islam, rather than by a nascent immigrant community. Nobody, except perhaps the proverbial rock-lobber yet knows why the windows of this former 19th century schoolhouse were smashed last Saturday morning, but beneath the pall of islamophobia that grows heavy in the wake of an atrocity like the one that rocked Paris in January and ensuing media frenzy, we seem keen to race to conclusions.
Following the vandalism, the non-Muslim community has rallied around the mosque, inundating it with messages support. Its doors have been covered now with colourful paper hearts bearing words of solidarity and friendship, from simple exclamations of “Peace”, the uncomfortable and memetic rendering “Je suis Ihsan.”
by Jack Brindelli
In the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there are so many avenues of investigation that require a spectrum of analysis – and in due course the tragedy will no doubt be discussed from every angle, and in excruciating detail. Over the past week, there has been comparatively little debate on the idea supposedly central to the Parisian publication itself though – satire. In an age of seemingly perpetual outrage, offensive material is routinely accepted because it dresses in the clothes of ‘satire’. But in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, somebody needs to ask the question “what exactly is satire, and who should it serve?”