Hyderabad: Award-winning British-born journalist Yvonne Ridley has called
upon Muslims to join together and publish the truth to counter Islamophobia.
Addressing the 'Spring of Islam' conference here, organised by the
Jamaat-e-Islami over video conference from London, she said more
and more Muslims should join the media as it is the most powerful
way to get the message out about the purity of Islam.
"Ambitious parents want their sons and daughters to become
doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers. Why don't you
encourage them to join the media as writers, photographers,
filmmakers and documentary makers," said Ridley, who was denied a
visa by India to attend the conference.
She said by joining the media, Muslims can counter lies and
distortion about Islam and can make people see Islam as a religion
which promotes peace, encourages education and does not
discriminate against women.
"We need to lift the veil of ignorance towards Islam from the face
of the West and the best way is to create more and more
journalists from within our ranks. Misinformation, deliberate or
otherwise, and negative stereotypes, heighten tension and
legitimise imperialistic wars, brutality and torture of Muslims,"
"If the pen is mightier than the sword, and I truly believe it is,
then we must arm ourselves and be prepared to use it as a potent
weapon in the war of words," she said.
Ridley, who hit the headlines after she was captured by Taliban in
Afghanistan 2001, said the 9/11 attacks changed her life, like
that of so many others, forever.
"9/11 brought us to the war on terror and the media began to
portray Islam as an enemy towards mankind, especially the West.
Islam became the new face of the public enemy, and Muslims,
whether young or old, we all became targets of physical and verbal
abuse," said Ridely, who embraced Islam in 2003.
"Men, women and children were targeted in work places, schools,
universities and in streets in the West. I know similar abuse has
been meted out to my Muslim brothers and sisters in India and hate
crimes in India are reaching an unacceptable level. Islam is not a
threat to India. It is not a threat to mankind or humanity," she
Ridley, who worked for The Sunday Times, The Observer, Daily
Mirror, the News of the World and other newspapers, said being a
Muslim journalist was challenging. "We are checked daily. Our work
and words are scrutinized and the need of honesty and accuracy in
reporting is probably at a level higher than for anyone else," she
Pointing to how Islam spread 1,400 years ago by word of mouth
amongst merchants, who used to travel to far away countries,
Ridley said it is now easy for the Muslims to use the
sophisticated means of communication. She also called for
harnessing social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread
the message of Islam.