A Muslim community?
Since the story about the alleged kidnap plot by “terrorists” broke today, BBC news has been dominated by it. Reporters have been interviewing people in the Alum Rock and Sparkbrook areas of Birmingham where the arrests were made. The “Muslim community” is in the news again, with indignant young men protesting that the “community” ought to have been consulted before any arrests were made. Of course! That’s what the police ought to do – ‘consult’ people about whether or not to arrest anyone.
The form of words that BBC (and other) journalists use to explain stories like this is infuriating. I’ve complained to the BBC about the way they refer to people as “Muslims”, or talk about the “Muslim community”, on the basis of assumptions made about them because of their appearance or the area they live in. Laziness likes this reinforces stereotypical thinking. When did journalists start defining people by religion, rather than their ethnicity?
A BBC reporter questions a Caucasian man in the street:
“How about the relationship between the English community and the Muslim community?”
He might as well have asked about the relationship between white people and brown ones.
A BBC reporter stands in front of a small crowd of men and boys at the end of a cordoned off street, and talks to camera:
“Quite a lot of local Muslims have gathered.”
Not, a lot of local people, or a lot of local men; maybe he thought they must all be Muslims because there’s a mosque in the vicinity?
BBC NEWSWATCH is on BBC News 24 at 20.45 on Fridays and on BBC1’s Breakfast on Saturdays at 7.45.