Public speaker blasts media for bias against Muslims

August 16, 2010
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A Muslim public speaker who was barred from entering Britain and Canada in June has blasted international media that “wage war against Islam”, saying that they are “fighting peace.”

“Islam is the most misunderstood religion. It bears the brunt of myths as well as hatred propaganda. The mass media, aligned to treacherous domestic as well as corporate interests, spreads these myths virulently worldwide,” Zakir Naik, a public speaker on Islam and comparative religions, said in Doha. “Worldwide media today blame Islam or Muslims for any awful event that happens. They misinterpret Quran by taking verses and words out of context and debate to show that there is no place for peace and tolerance in Islam,” he said at a lecture hosted by Qatar Guest Centre.

One of the most misinterpreted words is “jihad,” said Naik, 44.

“Used today as a synonym for holy war, the word merely means to struggle or strive. Misinformation and misconception concerning Jihad are fuelled again and again by the media. As a result, a prejudiced attitude has been nurtured, with the result that whenever any terrorism takes place, it is assumed that the ones to blame are Muslims,” he said. “Muslims adhere to their religious beliefs just as scientists hold on to basic scientific principles. However, a Muslim who does so is branded as an Islamic fundamentalist. If a pure and true Muslim has to be called by the title Islamic fundamentalist, then I am proud of being called so,” he said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

Thousands of TV stations, newspapers and other media around the globe reach out to millions of people worldwide, and play a major role in shaping public opinion, he said.

“It is noteworthy that these entertainment and corporate media do not provide unbiased information as they claim. It is a business laden with cut-throat competition, political manipulations and corporate interests,” Naik said. “While billions of dollars are spent by various organisations to promote their point of view, Muslims lag behind in this effort. These corporate media which work with billions in their budget actually exploit the backward situation of Muslims to promote anti-Muslim stance … When a so-called Muslim does any crime, it is branded as an act of terrorism while the same deeds done by others would be swept under the carpet,” he said.

Naik, a doctor by training, is among the top three most influential religious scholars in India and one of the 100 most powerful Indians in a recent survey by the Indian Express newspaper. He was denied entry into Canada in June and had his multiple-entry visa, issued in 2009, cancelled. The ban came only days after he was barred from attending a conference in London amid claims by the British Home Ministry that it had discovered evidence “of his unacceptable behaviour.”

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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