News / Asia

Forum Debates Australian Media's Treatment of Muslims

Protesters clash with police on a street in Sydney's central business district in Australia, September 15, 2012.
Protesters clash with police on a street in Sydney's central business district in Australia, September 15, 2012.
Phil Mercer
Australians are still discussing the fallout from a violent riot in September, when a protest against an anti-Islam film involving a few hundred people ended amid clashes with police in downtown Sydney. Muslim groups in Australia have complained that some news coverage of the disturbances was inflammatory.  

The protest began in Sydney on September 15, as part of a global protest against an anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims that was produced in the United States.

Clashes between Australian police and Muslim protesters began when the rally reached the U.S. Consulate in Sydney. Several protesters were arrested. The rioters were widely condemned by the Muslim community, which claimed the event had been hijacked by a violent minority.

Media vs. Muslims

However, some newspaper editorials accused sections of Australia’s Islamic community of trying to wreck multiculturalism, while others suggested Muslims were too tolerant of radical anti-Western preachers and had allowed dissent to boil over.

Analysts said the unrest damaged relations between mainstream Australian society and the Muslim minority.

Thursday, a panel discussion at the New South Wales State Parliament examined how to repair those relations and how the news media's covered the aftermath of the riots.

Conference organizer Kuranda Seyit, the founder of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations, said news coverage of Muslims can often be too superficial or inaccurate.

“Sometimes it can be skewed to be controversial or sensationalist, and unfortunately Muslims bear the brunt of a lot of that type of media coverage, and we saw that with the riots in Sydney," said Seyit. "We saw it with many other issues around the world.  We see that Islam generally is seen as aggressive or violent or, you know, behind terrorist acts and things like that. So there is not enough analysis.”          

Defending the media

Media executives have insisted their coverage has been fair.  In the days after the Sydney riots, many outlets published articles by Islamic scholars. The Sydney Morning Herald said “the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Australia do not believe that a small band of violent youths speak for them. “

Kuranda Seyit said that, although some media companies acted responsibly, others were too quick to tarnish the entire Muslim community.

“It is a bit more frightening and dumbing down of our program content, which is not a good indication for the future," said Seyit. "But, I think it is coming down to, you know, ratings and dollar figures and advertising.  Look, there are a lot of areas we can improve on.”       

Australia has a diverse Islamic community, drawn from more than 70 countries.  

According to the latest figures, Australia is home to more than 475,000 Muslims, who make up about two-and-a-quarter percent of the national population.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid