Sheffield Hallam University student uses art installation to highlight media bias against Muslims

By Amy Varley

A final year graphic design student at Sheffield Hallam University created an augmented reality (AR) installation that highlights the negative perception of Muslims within mainstream media.

Photo by Amy Varley

Twenty-three-year-old Azizah Raghib used AR features to show the headlines and images used to target Muslims, all brought to life by smartphone app Artivive.

The installation, based in the Fitzalan Square venue DINA, also included an interactive visual aid that labels recognised faces with the negative terms that are often used to stereotype Muslims in all forms of media.

During the little over a year Azizah has lived in Sheffield, she says she has been met with nothing but kindness but makes it clear that this isn’t the case for everyone.

“A lot of people don’t experience extreme Islamophobia but those who don’t know Muslims have these connotations in their mind”, she explained. “Any criticism is welcome, but it’s only helpful if it’s constructive.”

A study conducted by The Muslim Council of Britain between 2018 and 2020 found that almost 60% of the articles they analysed from British media were identified as associating negative aspects and behaviour with Muslims and Islam.

Photo by Amy Varley

Azizah’s project looked at headlines from 2005 to 2017 and highlighted the lack of change in how they speak about Islam as a whole. Through her work, she hopes to start a conversation and encourage reflection upon the treatment of Muslims within mainstream media.

The installation began as a social good project for Azizah’s university course in Graphic Design, but the idea developed further after a conversation with a friend who, at the time, was interested in Islam and began reading about the religion.

Whilst at work, her friend was asked by a supervisor if she was sure about joining Islam, alongside the question: “You know what the media say about Muslims right?”

When included in global journalism, these misrepresentations spread into and influence opinions across the world, only making installations like Azizah’s even more important.

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