A lie is halfway around the world before truth has had time to tie its shoelaces, is an old adage. While coined a long time ago, it is even more applicable today in the age of the internet and virtually instant communications. What is disturbing is that while communications have become superfast, what is communicated is not always factual or true. On the contrary, the internet and other forms of communication have become vehicles for disinformation.
This is clearly evident in the spread of Islamophobia, especially in the West, under the rubric of free speech. Every form of vile propaganda against Muslims is justified; complete lies are peddled. The West’s wars against Muslim countries are justified by accusing Muslims of indulging in terrorism. The term remains undefined but its use and abuse is widespread. People struggling against foreign occupation and invasion are branded as terrorists while those indulging in actual terrorism — threatening or using force against people to make them change their policies — are considered normal. The propaganda war of words is the psychological warfare that both precedes and attends the war of bombs, shock and awe, and boots on the ground.
While Muslims are the principal victims of this vile policy, there is little or nothing that Muslims at any level have done to confront this alarming threat to their very existence. Muslim reaction has been sporadic and largely confined to each country’s own priorities. Even that would be acceptable but the trouble is that in every country, despotic rulers use the media as a sloganeering outfit to heap encomiums upon those who would have otherwise been known for doing nothing, or less.
Some regimes have gone on a media buying spree to ensure only one message — the one they approve of — is projected. This is especially true in the Muslim East where some regimes with deep pockets have corralled media outlets in many different countries. These media outlets specialize in two things: projecting the ruler of the country that owns the media, as a gift to all humanity and, targeting their Muslim enemies as evil. The actual enemies of Muslims — imperialists and Zionists — are seldom if ever mentioned.
Is this about to change? In September, during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that together with the leaders of Turkey and Malaysia, they had decided to launch an international television channel that would confront Islamophobia. While this is welcome news, details are sketchy. Apart from financial commitments, the questions that need to be answered are where will it be based, who will staff it, and what kind of programming will it air?
We can offer some unsolicited advice. The TV channel should not be used to promote the sponsoring leaders. Its role should be to expose the root causes of Islamophobia, to put the spotlight on those that are involved in financing it, not merely the front men and women — the mules — who do the dirty work and have become the public face.
Islamophobia is a multi-billion dollar industry with powerful players operating behind the scenes. They have a specific agenda: Muslims have to be demonized and projected as the enemy. Only then can wars of aggression against Muslim countries and the murder of millions of people be justified. Further, constantly promoting hatred of Muslims helps divert attention from the crimes being perpetrated by the imperialists and Zionists against Muslims.
What would this anti-Islamophobia channel be called? Will it have the freedom to bring up these issues and debate them candidly? While we await more details, we hope the proponents of this proposal would give it serious thought to make it a worthy venture.