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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid