Canadian Muslims Rely on International News Sources



    Muslims Feel Canadian Media Can Do a Better Job

    CALGARY, March 13 /CNW/ - Muslim Canadians say they are more likely to
turn to a variety of international news sources than other Canadian, according
to a new report by IPSOS-REID, Public Affairs. The Centre for Faith and the
Media today released the report done for its "Muslim Project", outlining the
results of focus groups conducted in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.
    "Many said they needed to seek different perspectives on news events and
relied on international news sources that stemmed from their home countries to
act as a counterbalance to those viewpoints offered on Canadian and US
newscasts," the report states. To gain a more balanced perspective on news
stories, participants said they accessed news either online or through ethnic
or satellite broadcast services, including such sources as Al Jazeera, ART
(Arab Radio and Television), ZeeTV (India-based satellite television channel),
MTA International (Muslim television based in the UK), or TRT (Turkish Radio
and Television Corporation), among others.
    The BBC was highly regarded as a balanced source of news on international
stories involving Muslims. Many also commented that the CBC is doing a
relatively good job in terms of more balanced reporting. Other Canadian
outlets mentioned favorably were Radio Canada, OMNI, and the Toronto Star.
While some Canadian news media were regarded positively, many thought that
Canadian media overall should be doing a better job to counteract the
influence of US media, considered to be much more sensationalistic. American
news stations such as CNN or FOX were considered the worst in portraying
Muslims.
    The focus group participants were unanimous in their appreciation of
Canada's tolerance towards diversity. But many felt the media continue to
reinforce the stereotypes that Muslims are extremists, radicals, and
terrorists. Stories about Canadian Muslim women wearing the hijab tend to
portray them as oppressed, reinforcing the view that Islam is backwards and
that the hijab is a sign of anti-western values.
    The effects of media misrepresentation cannot be underestimated.
Participants said they feel their religion and identity are virtually under
attack. In reaction, there appears to be a growing religiosity among some
Muslim youth - some noted that more teens are attending mosque and speaking up
in groups, and more young women are wearing the hijab.
    Participants agreed that the news media play a critical role in shaping
the attitudes of Canadians towards Muslims, and should, therefore, recognize
their responsibility to portray the communities with balance.
    Participants suggested reporting on Muslims could be improved by media
outlets hiring Muslim journalists, providing education in newsrooms about the
differences between Muslims and the distinctions between what is culture and
what is religion. Participants also suggested the media consult with a wider
group of knowledgeable experts and spokespersons from within Canada's Muslim
communities. Finally, the media could do positive stories about how Muslims
are contributing to Canadian society, and interacting cooperatively with
people of other faiths.




For further information:

For further information: Richelle Wiseman, Executive Director, Centre
for Faith and the Media, phone 1-877-210-0077, info@faithandmedia.org; Grace
Tong, Research Manager, Ipsos Reid Public Affairs, phone (416) 572-4479,
grace.tong@ipsos-reid.com - Report is posted on www.faithandmedia.org -
www.ipsos.ca

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CENTRE FOR FAITH AND THE MEDIA

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