This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of July, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 16 July 2019
Media Outlet: The Telegraph (on Twitter), national daily British broadsheet newspaper
Headline: “Two of England's Cricket champions were forced to walk away from the champagne celebrations because they are Muslim and therefore choose not to drink. But in a multicultural Britain should this be happening? And are champagne celebrations outdated in multicultural Britain?”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Earlier this month, the England men’s team won the Cricket World Cup. The Telegraph posted a video on their Twitter account showing two players walking away from the team celebrations to avoid being sprayed by the celebratory champagne popping. These two players were Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, who have both been playing for the England team for many years. Both players are Muslim, and therefore choose to not be in contact with alcohol. The Telegraph stated that the players were “forced to walk away from the champagne celebrations” and “stop their celebrations,” posing the question of whether such celebrations should still be happening in multicultural Britain. The content from the Telegraph paints the whole situation in a very negative light and seems to suggest that Ali and Rashid were very upset about being ‘forced’ to no longer celebrate their win. Moreover, the way the Telegraph chose to frame this issue makes it seem like Ali and Rashid, and the wider Muslim community, are the ones questioning whether champagne celebrations should still be taking place, and wanting to change this. Responses to the post on Twitter show a reflection of this rhetoric, with one user stating: “Then they should learn to fit in with us. Why is it we always have to change to accommodate them? Enough is enough. Time they learned to integrate and adopt our traditions.” And another claiming: “If this continues, West wouldn't be West any more. A whole civilisation and culture is going to be wiped out in the name of accommodation and multiculturalism.”
Myth debunked: The main issue with this piece of content is the framing, which puts Ali and Rashid in a negative light. A day before the Telegraph published their video, : “Diversity is one of our strengths and it helped us win the World Cup.” In the piece, Ali explains: “Once again you will have seen Rash and myself stepping away when the champagne was sprayed on the podium and I find it weird that people still think it is strange that we do it. We respect our teammates and their desire to do this, they respect our beliefs. It’s really that simple. The amazing thing about our team is that guys took time out very early on to talk to us about our religion and our culture. They have made adjustments for us and we have for them. And we live in harmony.” It is clear from Ali’s words that he has no issue with the champagne celebrations: he and Rashid chose not to participate, while respecting their teammates’ desires to do so. However, this standpoint is not reflected by the publication. The Telegraph could have been well-intentioned, wanting to point out how certain celebrations might exclude certain individuals from participating. However, the way the news piece was framed mischaracterizes the two Muslims players’ actions, falsely portraying them as having issues with this practice. Moreover, the framing encourages those already holding anti-Muslim and anti-multiculturalism sentiments to spread those in response to the post, as they are seeing their narratives reinforced. What should have been a celebration of a multicultural team winning a World Cup becomes a hateful diatribe against believers practicing their religion.
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