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Gary Herman

nowthankyouandbyeAt first sight, the phone hacking scandal that led to the demise of the world's best-selling English language newspaper, the News of the World, does not seem to be an issue of diversity. After all, Rupert Murdoch's media empire is driven less by ideology than by commerce, and the logic of the closure is simple - the News of the World had become a toxic brand whose poison may have spread to other parts of the empire unless it was amputated like a gangrenous limb.


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Gary Herman

Published: 1 July 2011

Region: EU

A few weeks ago, the European Policy Centre in Brussels held one of its regular ‘Policy Dialogue’ meetings where experts in fields that interest the EPC gather together to discuss a current thorny topic. This time the topic was ‘Public perceptions about minorities and immigrants: the role of the media’, and the experts included presenters Oliver Money-Kyrle, Assistant General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Raymond Dassi, a journalist and member of the Italian Intercultural Journalists Association (ANSI), and Alexandra Moe, the Director of New America Media (NAM). An interesting group of people, I thought, and wondered what could have brought them together.


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Gary Herman

bbc1Published: 14 June 2011 Region: UK

A couple of weeks ago, the BBC – probably the biggest and certainly the most influential public service broadcaster in the world – announced its diversity strategy for the next five years to 2015. This should have been a major news event in its own right. After all, the BBC is a unique institution – not only does it operate across radio, television and the web, reaching a global audience for its English language services of around 240 million, but it also runs 27 foreign language radio services – after cuts – from Arabic to Vietnamese, while its website is the most visited mainstream media site on the internet, beaten only in the Netcraft listings by upstarts like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia.


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Gary Herman

georgestronPublished: 1 June 2011

Location: UK & Worldwide

The news that Georges Tron, a civil service minister in Nicolas Sarkozy's government, is being investigated for sexual harassment, adds fuel to the smoldering fire started by Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York a couple of weeks ago. The French, it appears, may be learning one of the more recherché lessons about globalisation - that it makes the suppression of awkward truths a lot harder.

I don't know whether Tron is guilty or not - he, at least, strongly denies the accusations of two women who claim that he and a female accomplice sexually harassed them on a number of occasions over a period of three years. I don't know whether DSK is guilty. But I do know that these incidents have drawn aside a curtain that the French media and the political establishment have tried for years to keep tightly closed.


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Gary Herman

ugandatgxtanotherhand1Published: 20 May 2011

Region: Uganda & Worldwide

Uganda's notorious anti-homosexuality laws have grabbed international headlines in recent weeks, and maybe the plain facts about the country help to explain why the issue has become so ferociously contested within this benighted part of Africa.

Despite significant economic growth in recent years and substantial natural resources, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world, stricken by HIV/AIDS and common infectious diseases such as typhoid, malaria, rabies and plague, embroiled in the regional wars that plague the Great Lakes area of Africa, and riven with political corruption, civil war and ethnic conflict.


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Gary Herman

A few weeks ago, on 17 March, the third British-German Islam conference took place in London. The conference was entitled 'Beyond Multiculturalism: Islam in Europe and Euro-Islam'  and was organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung together with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the German Embassy and the Democracy and Islam Programme at the University of Westminster. I found one presentation particularly interesting among the many discussions - led mostly by Muslims themselves - of how Muslim communities should work to overcome the widening gap between them and non-Muslim communities in Europe. The presentation that grabbed my attention was by a non-Muslim German journalist, Jorg Lau of the weekly news magazine, Die Zeit.


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Gary Herman

justeyesPublished: 11 April 2011

Region: France & Worldwide

Gary Herman for Media Diversity Institute

On April 11, 2011, the French state introduced the ‘Burqa Ban’, criminalising the wearing of traditional Muslim full-face veils by women.

Many people find this law a mystery.

First, there’s the question of its targets.

Despite having the largest Muslim minority in Europe – around five million - the numbers of women who wear niqabs or burkas in France is tiny.  Le Monde has estimated the total at less than 400, while the Ministry of the Interior estimates 2,000. In any case, this is far fewer than the number of veil-wearers in the UK, for example, with a Muslim population less than half the size.


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Gary Herman

findusonfacebookFacebook is a marvellous tool. It may even have played an important part in organising the ongoing revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. The authorities certainly seem to think so, which is why they try to suppress it. Egypt famously blocked Facebook in late January this year in a futile attempt by the Mubarak regime to stop the revolution in its tracks. Others have done the same.

But Facebook has a dark side. In the UK, the Daily Mail - a newspaper that likes to pander to the most ill-informed prejudices of its readership - is going head-to-head with Facebook. The social network has objected to the paper's persistent use of its name in news coverage of paedophile activity. For example, the Mail has a habit of referring to "victims of Facebook sex gangs" in much the same sort of way as it recently illustrated a story about immigrant workers from Eastern Europe in rural England with a picture of a city street scene featuring a significant number of people of Asian origin. You know the tactic. Associate one thing with another and, pretty soon, in the minds of readers the two things become equivalent. Polish immigrants equal British Asians; Facebook equals paedophilia.


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Gary Herman

garyhermanpicRecent statements from European leaders on the theme of multiculturalism leave the distinct and unpleasant odour of a concerted attack hanging in the air. It started with Angela Merkel last October and has since been followed up by Jose Maria Aznar, David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and – most recently – the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister, Maxime Verhagen. In each case, the evidence cited for multiculturalism’s failure is the growth of native Islamist violence.

This is a view perpetuated by almost all the Western media, for whom the problem of Islamist terror is Islam and the problem of Islam - in the West - is multiculturalism. Multiculturalism, in short, has become a codeword. The politicians may claim that “we must all respect differences” and that “extremism … is a distortion of Islam”, but when headlines from San Diego to Sydney all shout “Multiculturalism Doesn’t Work” the implication is increasingly clear – Muslim culture is a viper in the bosom of Western democracy.

Cameron’s particular contribution to the attack – in a speech to a security conference in Munich on February 5th - came on the same day as the ultra-right English Defence League brought their contemporary brand of racism to the streets of Luton, a small town not far from London where poverty and deprivation have certainly provided fertile ground for extremism. 


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