YLE A-Studio: Let’s talk about stereotypes of Islam and jihadism

by , under Enrique Tessieri

What was the message that Thursday’s YLE A-Studio program on jihadism attempted to convey with the help of background pictures in light of the Charlie Hebdo attack? Was it that Muslim women wear niqabs and that jihadists wear masks and are pissed off? Is that the underlying tone that YLE A-Studio want to convey to viewers about Muslims and jihadism? 

Thanks to Maryan Abdulkarim, Sadek Elway and Silvia Akar, the show didn’t go down that regrettable path, at least not too far.

The other guest Atte Kaleva, who is running for parliament in April for the National Coalition Party, had other opinions when he attempted to paint Islam with a single brush.

Kaleva, who is an army captain that was kidnapped and later freed by al-Qaeda in Yemen in 2013, makes a pretty incredible by standing by affirming what he said earlier about Islam that it is a “hostile, intolerant and militant religion.”

It was a good matter that Helsinki University Arabic language lecturer, Sylvia Akar, put matters into perspective and exposed Kaleva’s ethnocentrism. She asked how the Bible differs from Kaleva’s comments about the Koran.

“I shy away from [those that claim] that Islam is this or that,” she said. “Islam isn’t one whole and no adjective can describe it.”

Reza Aslam, a University of California at Riverside professor, has stated that religions are not violent but the people who form part of them.

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See whole program (in Finnish) here.


Some good points brought on the talk show by by Abdulkarim was how fascism in Europe is similar to a movement like the Islamic State. Both try to construct a homogenous picture of society where there is no room for minorities, said Abdulkarim.

Elwan asked a very good question as well: Who are the jihadists?

Thanks to Abdulkarim, Elwan and Akar that the program did not end up picturing Islam as A-Studio’s background pictures that portrayed a woman wearing a niqab and men as masked jihadists.

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What feelings does this picture of a masked woman bring out when compared with a woman wearing a niqab? The text in the picture states that there is nothing more subversive and profane than a group of women below saying, saying to themselves: We women.


Or does it boil down to this below?

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