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Maryam Namazie on Islamophobia in the Guardian

Channel 4 rejects ‘Islamophobia’ claims
Mark Sweney, MediaGuardian
Friday August 24 2007

This article was first published on on Friday August 24 2007.

It was last updated at 11:20 on January 08 2008.

The Channel 4 deputy head of news and current affairs, Kevin Sutcliffe, today dismissed accusations of Islamophobia in the broadcaster’s programming, stating that it would remain “fearless” in its coverage.
Mr Sutcliffe, one of five panelists involved at a sometimes heated session at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh international television festival about the portrayal of Islam in the media, said critics would be “hard pressed to point to Islamophobia” in Channel 4’s programming.

“We have a rounded view and approach to this issue … we are quite fearless about what we want to say and when we want to say it,” he added.

In response to the Crown Prosecution Service criticism that the controversial Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque had “distorted” the views of those filmed, Mr Sutcliffe said it was a “phoney argument”.

He added that it had been proven that the “people said what they said freely” in the documentary, broadcast in January.

The issue, argued Mr Sutcliffe, was that there seemed to be a situation now that “if you don’t like the message shoot the messenger”. “[Undercover] Mosque speaks for itself,” he added.

Mr Sutcliffe added that a decision was taken six years ago to make the issue a “key plank” in Channel 4’s strategy and that it was “about engagement and trying to understand” Islam.

Channel 4, had made about 30 films “covering a wide-range issues” across drama, news and current affairs that made for “representative” coverage, he said.

The broadcaster had, for example, been very critical of British foreign policy towards wars in Islamic countries, he added.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, agreed that following events such as 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London it was “inevitable” there would be an “increased scrutiny of Muslim organisations and mosques”.

However, he said that he was “entitled to ask if it is fair”. He then stated that Muslims and Islam “does not have a level playing field in the media in this country”.

Mr Bunglawala expressed concern over “authored documentaries” in which “journalists have an axe to grind”. He cited a Panorama documentary by John Ware as an example.

Maryam Namazie, spokesperson of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, strongly disagreed, arguing that the UK media was too soft in its coverage of Islam. “Media doesn’t cover the realities of Islam at all, it is very soft,” she said.

She added that the political Islamist movement in Britain and Europe had engineered a “victim status”, whereby criticism of Islam was being equated to racism against Muslims.

“Criticising a belief is not racism, it is not the case that that Muslims are being vilified,” Ms Namazie said.

To contact the MediaGuardian newsdesk email [email protected] or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.

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Don’t Mention Islam

Maryam Namazie will be speaking on a panel on how the media is soft on Islam at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Other panellists:

  • Andrew Anthony, Author and Journalist
  • Arzu Merali, Islamic Human Rights Commission
  • Inayat Bunglawala, Vice Chair, Muslim Council of Britain
  • Kevin Sutcliffe, Deputy Head of News & Current Affairs, Channel 4
  • Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain
  • Peter Horrocks, Head of Television News, BBC News

6 MPs have called on UK MPs to support the following Early Day Motion in
favour of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. You can help getting more
MPs on board by doing the following:

  1. Write to your MP, identifying and quoting the motion and ideally offering
    arguments in favour of it. If you don’t know who your MP is or how to
    contact them, visit /people.
  2. If your MP has already signed, congratulate them.
  3. Government ministers don’t sign EDMs. If your MP is a minister, ask them
    what the Government are doing about the matter. You may be more likely to
    elicit a response by asking more specific questions.
  4. If your MP hasn’t signed and isn’t a minister, urge them to sign.
  5. Encourage others to follow the same steps.

UK members please consider supporting the following House of Commons
Early Day Motion: /EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=33607

EDM 1770
Challen, Colin

That this House supports the human right to freedom of religion or
belief, including the right to change one’s religion and welcomes
the launch on 21st June of the Council for ex-Muslims of Britain,
an organisation dedicated to speaking up for the rights of those
raised as Muslim but who have now left that religion.

Signatures (6)

Challen, Colin
Bottomley, Peter
Conway, Derek
Jones, Lynne
Drew, David
Cryer, Ann

New group for those who renounce Islam

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Former Muslims who fear for their lives because they have renounced their faith are to launch a new organisation in Britain on Friday, The Telegraph reports.

The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain plans to speak out against Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan that punish Muslim apostates with death. It also aims to become the voice of non-religious ex-Muslims who do not want to be represented by “regressive” umbrella groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain, writes Jonathan Petre in The Telegraph.

The council is being headed by Maryam Namazie, a human rights activist who was forced to flee her native Iran. She said: “We are establishing the alternative to the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain because we don’t think people should be pigeonholed as Muslims or deemed to be represented by regressive organisations like the MCB.”

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