Since 1982, it can be said that Channel Four has been at the forefront of reaching its audience through a dynamic, innovative approach towards telling the full story, yet this often means that touchy and controversial issues have to be addressed at the same time.
Indeed, when the documentary The Jihadis Next Door was beamed onto our screens, much of the audience anticipated a bog-standard piece of inflammatory propaganda that has besieged minority groups since time immemorial. For the fifteen or so years, it is quite obvious to say that the agenda of bad publicity has shifted towards Muslims, and the religion in general. But how does The Jihadist Next Door convey this particular image, and does it seek to rectify any imbalances in the portrayal of Islam?
Credible documentaries are judged on its ability to cover both sides of the argument, whilst giving the “real picture” on topical issues. To the viewing public, a small group of Islamic extremists shouting from a megaphone on the streets of London can be extremely provocative, drawing much attention to themselves, but The Jihadi’s Next Door also spends a small amount of its coverage on the reactions from ordinary Muslims themselves denouncing the agenda of fundamentalism.
Much of the documentary also focus on Mohammed Shamsuddin, and Abu Hameela, two individuals with extremist views that envision Sharia law not just on the United Kingdom, but in the entire world. Connections were made to the economic inactivity of the men, a notion that tends to ring loudly in the press as the stigma of being unemployed has been exacerbated in recent years; adding to the “complete package” of undesirable individuals. In addition to this, their personalities were scrutinised further, expressing their almost comical approach to the atrocities of war, just like a testosterone-filled “tommy” that has just signed up for service during the First World War, albeit under a completely different context it must be said.
Is this documentary meant to scare, enlighten, or even educate on the dangers of extremism? Quite simply, the real agenda is debatable as Channel Four has explored the other side of dangerous politics; particularly in regards to Angry, White and Proud. Whilst exploring sensitive subjects is commendable, many can’t help but wonder whether these “movements” are bigger than they actually are. It is common knowledge that most Muslims are not extremists, and most White English people are not ardent nationalists, yet it appears that these groups garner more media attention than the level headed members of society that simply see each other as human beings.
Sadly, this is the way of the world, and unless people rather than corporations are reporting on the full picture, we can already foresee many of these documentaries to come in the near future.
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