Despite the demise of NOTW Muslims and Islam are unlikely to get a fair hearing in the British press.
Muslims have a special interest in the shocking though perhaps unsurprising revelations surrounding the News of the World (NOTW). Since 9/11 NOTW perhaps more than any other media outlet exploited every opportunity (real or fabricated) to attack Islam and the Shariah; frequently claiming that Muslims in Britain behaved as if they were above the law. The weekly torrent of anti-Muslim stories, defended on the grounds of freedom of speech and openness, manufactured an atmosphere of hate against Muslims and Islam given the wide circulations and consequent influencing power of the tabloids – no doubt fanning the flames of Islamophobia leading to attacks on Muslims, mosques and madrasas across the country. Muslims quickly became public enemy – perhaps in the same way that NOTW journalists are being seen today – how ironic!
Disclosures of NOTW’s illegal, corrupt and immoral practices of hacking a murdered school girl’s phone; compromising criminal investigations; bribing police officers; and blackmailing politicians exposes the hypocritical and truly corrupt position of its editorial staff. One wonders how many of those anti-Muslim stories had any semblance of reality and more importantly what role the police and politicians – given their ties with NOTW – played in feeding the anti-Muslim agenda to the media. It’s unlikely this will form one of the points of investigation for the Public Inquiry though.
After the furore of the MPs expense abuses it could not get worse for the so called mother of democracy – the British Parliament. Yet with successive British prime ministers surreptitiously currying favour with Murdoch and his editorial staff, and senior police officers taking cash for inside information – we’ve had a glimpse of the deep seated corruption usually associated with the political elites in the third world, especially in the Muslim countries. Perhaps it should not be surprising since the political class in the third world gets its patronage from these very same morally bankrupt characters in the west.
With politicians now smelling the scent of a wounded animal, Murdoch is being portrayed as the all-embracing dark cloud that put a spell that corrupted politics wielding undue influence over the British political establishment. However, these same politicians courted Murdoch’s influence as much as Murdoch utilised their power to expand his empire. British politicians of all colours cultivated ties with military precision over decades with the Murdoch media empire knowing full well the power of the tabloid press in influencing public opinion – for or against their policies.
After the name calling we are at the stage in the storm – like in previous crises (Iraq War; MPs Expenses) – when a public inquiry is proposed to “get to the bottom of the issues”. A few heads will be sacrificed; leading actors will issue solemn public apologies; new codes of practice will be issued to provide greater disclosure of political and media links in order to placate the public while also opening new loop holes for more wrongdoings given the insidious, deep and entrenched links between politics, media and big business.
With the Muslim world increasingly adopting media rules (or the lack of) from the west, the political systems in Muslim countries – already corruption ridden – will become even more unrepresentative and open to corporate and foreign manipulation hidden behind the façade of an open and free media.