Opinion: Lack of Media Coverage of First Muslim Woman MP Shows Biased, Conservative Portrayal of Islam

July 25, 2004

Source: Muslim WakeUp!


On July 25, 2004 Muslim WakeUp! posted an opinion piece (originally published in the Globe and Mail) by Tarek Fatah, host of The Muslim Chronicle, a weekly program on Canadian TV, and a founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, on the lack of media coverage on the election of Canada's first Muslim woman member of Parliament, Yasmin Ratansi. Fatah writes, "The question is this: How could the national media miss such a historic milestone for Canada's 600,000-strong Muslim community? It was a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering that Ms. Ratansi came to Canada from Tanzania as a young immigrant. She is a role model not just for Muslims, but all immigrants who decide to make this country our home...From the Canadian Islamic Congress to CAIR-Canada, from MuslimVote.ca to Radio Islam, there was not a word, either prior to, or after June 29, about the campaign of Ms. Ratansi. I believe that both the media and the traditional Muslim organizations are guilty of seeing Canada's Muslim community through the prism of social conservatism. The search for the authentic Muslim has forced reporters and editors to look for women in head covers and men in beards. When a Muslim does not fit that stereotype, he or she is simply discarded as not a genuine Muslim...Canada's news media is complicit in covering the most conservative Muslims in Canada. Unintentionally, perhaps, they have neglected the vast, silent majority of Muslims who do not wear beards, do not cover their heads and who do not follow the direction of imams and self-styled leaders in determining their politics. In their search for genuine Muslims who carried credentials of authenticity by the conservative leadership, the media overlooked Ms. Ratansi, and failed to give her the credit she so rightly deserves as a torchbearer for Muslims in Canada."