Stereotyping of Muslims in Indian media

Indian mainstream media today plays to the gallery of stereotypes. And one of the thriving stereotypes is “islamophobia” or stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. One of the examples is an article recently published online by Deccan Chronicle.

A Screenshot of DeccanChronicle.com article on Bangalore Police being on a high alert over suspicion of terrorists presence in the city. The photograph used in connection with the story is of a random muslim man being questioned by police.

Deccan Chronicle is a daily English newspaper with a presence in Southern Indian cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore. Recently, while browsing Facebook, I stumbled upon a photograph on my Facebook timeline. The image was uploaded by Deccan Chronicle on its Facebook page. The image showed a random individual (sporting a headgear worn by Indian Muslims) being questioned by police. The accompanying text neither mentioned any details on the location and time of the photograph, nor did it carry the photographer’s name (or photo credit). Without any contextual information , it appears like an archival image that was reused with the sole purpose of  “forcibly including a photograph for an article.” This type of usage is normally seen in print form, with a caption like “Image For Representational Purpose Only.” However here, it didn’t carry such a text too. All that was shared with the photograph was a headline that read as Terrorists in Bengaluru? Police on High Alert | Read on: http://bit.ly/17fmbbZ

Deccan Chronicle on Facebook, a screenshot

Deccan Chronicle on Facebook, a screenshot

My initial thoughts was why force an image which shows any individual’s face while he/she was questioned by police for a story on terrorism? Since I found it on Facebook, I asked myself “Since images go more viral than text on social media, and that’s why this media house put an image there?” I clicked the link to be taken to Deccan Chronicle website where to my further disappointment, the image was used again along with the article.

This man’s face is identifiable. His religion too is identifiable with his headgear. But is he a terrorist? NO. Then, is it okay for media houses to portray in Muslims as symbols of terrorism in? I guess not.

In my honest opinion this is a very insensitive image usage by Deccan Chronicle. By using this image for representational purpose, the newspaper seem to be driving a stereotype that “Muslims are terrorists” or “All Muslims are potential terror suspects”. This is an example of how modern-day mainstream media has lost common sense. There is a thin line separating symbols and stereotypes in visual communication. Shouldn’t a daily newspaper not know this difference? For me, this reflects the declining standard of journalism in this country.

What do you all think about this? Do share your views with me.

 

 

 

Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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The validity of your point is sadly masked by your blatant hatred towards the paper.

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nishantratnakar

Dear Mr P, 🙂 Thanks for your comment. I neither have any blatant hatred towards this particular paper, nor towards alternate views or criticism (and hence approved your guest comment). In fact, being in media for five years, I do know of good individuals working in this paper and elsewhere too. In fact, after going independent with photography practice, this particular paper has showcased my work many a times! Personally, I might burn bridges with the management of this publication for this post. But, it is worthy trade-off for highlighting these issues, than staying silent for sake of personal benefit.… Read more »

sharaf
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sharaf

Hi Nishant.. i stumbled on ur blog thru google search for wedding photographer, and i was pleasantly surprised to see such a nice post. Very few institutions, persons reflect this kind of sensitivity. So great job, keep posting. We need to hear more sane voices more frequently.. Regds Sharaf