Muslims and voting
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday April 21 2015
A number of newspapers, the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Independent, Metro, and BBC News covered the appearance of stickers in the Grangetown area of Cardiff urging British Muslims not to vote in the upcoming general and local elections.
Posters bearing a hazard sign and stating “Democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah” and “Islam is the only real workable solution for the UK” have appeared on lampposts in the city to deter Muslims from voting.
Such efforts have been commonplace over the years with fringe groups self-defeatingly compounding the problem of Muslim alienation from politics by encouraging Muslims not to vote.
The logic of encouraging disassociation from political engagement has to be marvelled at at a time when British Muslims are facing growing encroachment to their civil liberties through the passage of ever draconian counter-terrorism legislation.
One has to wonder too, with the rise of UKIP and support shown for the party by far right groups such as the English Defence League and Britain First, what thought those who perpetuate campaigns condemning Muslim participation in politics give to the well-being of British Muslim citizens?
Sahar al-Faifi of the Muslim Council of Wales puts paid to the irrational motive of those behind the ‘don’t vote campaign’ stating, “The hateful people behind these posters do not represent us.
“The reason behind these posters is we have had such a successful voter registration campaign across mosques in Cardiff.
“We have been doing it every Friday for three months to encourage worshippers in an unpartisan way to participate in their civic duties.
“Most mosques were on board. The mosques believe they can be part of the political process of this country.”
One also has to wonder at the amount of media coverage these fringe activists attract. Al-Faifi referred to voter registration campaigns “across mosques in Cardiff” for “three months” and yet none of these appear to have attracted much, if any, media attention. mend have organised a series of election hustings across the country and voter registration drives, in partnership with the Electoral Commission, but this too has garnered little positive media coverage.
In their wideranging study on media representations of Islam and Muslims in the British nationals, Professors Tony McEnery and Paul Baker concluded, “when newspapers write about a minority group like Muslims, if they focus on a violent subset of that group, there is the danger that the majority suffer guilt by association. In a climate where the UK can spawn a group like the English Defence League, a wider set of representations of Islam would signify a welcome change to reporting practices. Muslims deserve a better press than they have been given in the past decade.”
It would seem changes to media reporting on British Muslims and elections is slow on the uptake.