Azizah Raghib’s “More Than Words” is an installation based project that uses immersive technology to explore the concept of Islamophobia in British Journalism, print and online. It shows headlines across decades, the earliest one being from 2005. When the newspaper prints are scanned with the artivive app, the original news clippings would pop up in place of the print.
One of the main features of the installation was Facial Recognition Tech (FRT) that would detect when a person walks in front of the camera and classify them as one of the 10 horrific keywords commonly used when talking about muslims. The FRT was created to show the quick thought process that might go on in someones head when they see a Muslim after being exposed to biased headlines, especially if they don’t know any Muslims personally. It puts the audience in a position of someone being prejudiced against.
A study commissioned by the Muslim Council of Britain reported 60% of printed articles portray the religion negatively and associate it with keywords like terrorism and extremism. The study also revealed that 59% of online media outlets associate Islam with a negative connotation, right-wing media being more inclined to do so. Most often than not, the stories come from a baseless ignorance, however it reinforces the public’s perception and fear-mongering around Islam. There are efforts being made to hold news and media outlets accountable, one example being Miqdaad Versi. Versi lodges complaints regularly to Independent Press Standard Organisations in order to amend the blatant Islamophobia in the industry. However there is still a long way to go to make productive changes. This installation is aimed to start a conversation about the biases, and the reaction captured during the event shows that More Than Words has succeeded in doing that.