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Middle East: Mass Media

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of media in Arab countries on extremist Islamic movements in the UK. (266636)

While no formal study has been undertaken into the possible effects of reporting in the Arabic media on extremist Islamic groups in the UK, it is possible that some stories in the Arabic media may indeed serve to reinforce such groups’ beliefs. However, we have no evidence to suggest that patterns of media consumption of extremist groups are particularly distinctive, and we believe that they are just as likely to focus on stories in British or other media which reinforce their beliefs.

Media in Arab countries are wide-ranging and many different viewpoints are expressed. The consumption of Arabic media therefore will not necessarily reinforce extremist views. We recognise that the Arabic media represent one of the best ways to communicate to the Arabic-speaking world, both in the Middle East and elsewhere, and for that reason we have Arabic language spokespersons based in London and the Gulf where they play an important role in articulating our policies to this crucial audience.

Additionally, as part of our Prevent communications strategy, we constantly monitor the Arabic media and respond to articles that give an inaccurate picture of Government policy or life in the UK for British Muslims.