Fighting Stereotypes in the U.K.

In the Telegraph, Damian Thompson has an interesting short piece titled “When Islam met the diversity industry.” He notes the incongruous compatibility between British Muslims and the heretofore aggressively secular diversity industry.

Thompson focuses on the Islamic Diversity Centre in Newcastle. Much could be said about this group’s activities, but I want to make just one observation. The IDC’s stated purpose is challenging stereotypes of Islam. It is therefore rather stunning that when the group introduces its staff to readers of its web site, the most persistent stereotypes are abundantly confirmed.

Check out the IDC team page, which describes the individuals on the organization’s staff. This screen shot shows the top part of the page:

That’s right: the men are identified and individually pictured, but for each female staff member there is a photo of a woman wearing a burqa, so that only her eyes are showing. Not only that, it is the same photo in each case; not a picture of the female staff member at all, but a generic image of a woman wearing a burqa.

Somehow I suspect it is going to take a little more effort to dispel those stereotypes.

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