Miqdad Versi – Centre for Media Monitoring16 Dec 2021
Miqdaad Versi has been referred to by the Guardian as the UK’s “one man Islamophobia media monitor”, more specifically he is the founder of the Muslim councils centre for Media Monitoring. There is definitely agreement amongst the British Muslim council and wider Muslim community, that there is a need for individuals such as Miqdad Versi. A recent report has been released by the British Muslim council which upon analysis shows that almost ⅔ of all articles released about Muslims, paints Muslims in a negative light. This includes mainstream media outlets such as the Times, Express and Telegraph who are guilty for at times promoting such Islamophobic ideas, the article suggesting that right leaning and more religious publications are more likely to associate Muslims with negative behaviours. The new findings that have been released demonstrate how the work being done by Miqdaad Versi today is necessary to shift public opinion and prevent the marginalization of Muslims in the media. This issue of Islamophobia portrayed by the media dangerously reflects in the actions of the public too, with the standard reporting in March 2021 that the 2021 census showed that 45% of hate crimes are committed against Muslims.
Miqdaad Versi began speaking out about islamophobia in the media through social media, and through gaining recognition has been able to write his own articles in ‘The Independent’ newspaper as well as ‘The Telegraph’, both newspapers that have a high public reach. He has more recently founded the centre for media monitoring (CfMM), whose work aims to report on Muslims in an unbiased and accurate manner as well as de-bunking articles and other ideas in the media that may discriminate against Muslims. The CFFM have a clear aim and method of achieving this, they primarily aim to create an evidence base that can undisputedly demonstrate how Islam and Muslims are presented in the media, next through analysis and reports they hope to provide recommendations for improvement. Finally, whilst the CFFM do criticise the actions of specific media outlets, they aim for constructive engagement with these same outlets and hope that these changes can empower Muslims in the UK.
One way that the CFFM aims to empower Muslims involves highlighting positive contributions that Muslims have made, to contrast the otherwise negative portrayal within the media. They have started the hashtag #positivelymuslim where they highlight the positive achievements and amazing work that Muslims around the UK have contributed to, an example being their recent article celebrating mosques feeding the homeless. In this way the CFMM aims to highlight negative trends in the media as well as promote positive practices, as a way to shift the current narrative around Muslims and begin to create a more accurate representation of Muslims.
Miqdaad Versi alongside his team have created a platform for Muslims to voice concerns about islamophobia, the website allows Muslims to submit a complaint and even publish a story about their own experiences with islamophobia or positive contributions made by Muslims. It essentially gives Muslims who have lost their voice to the main media a chance to rewrite their own narrative.