Uniform Civil Code: How Media Impacts Muslim Identity and Rights in India
Uniform Civil Code: How Media Impacts Muslim Identity and Rights in India
Intifada P. Basheer
Hanan Zaffar
Abstract: The months leading to the 2024 Indian general elections have witnessed intense discussions over the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). If implemented, the UCC aims to provide a single law governing all civil relationships between citizens who belong to a vast array of communities. This has triggered nationwide media debates among those favouring and opposing the UCC. Whilst the existing literature has primarily focussed on the constitutionality, impact, and necessity – or lack thereof – of such a move, this article views the discourse on UCC through a different lens by analysing the media’s impact on such discourse on shaping the Muslim identity and rights in India. The main research question posed by this article is: Is there a direct link between the media coverage of socio-political issues concerning Muslims, particularly UCC, and increased polarisation and othering of the Muslim community in the country? Indeed, the overall objective of this article is to underscore how the country’s mass media has successfully manufactured the consent for othering the Muslim community. However, tracking the UCC discourse in the humongous landscape of the Indian media in its entirety is not feasible in the short space of this article. Therefore, this article constructs its examination based on the primary and secondary contextual analysis of the mainstream Indian media narrative on the issue to highlight how the media has portrayed Muslims in a predominantly negative light, largely marginalising them. This article also underlines how similar media campaigns have affected other narratives pertaining to widely contested legal issues that impacted Muslims in the recent past. The analysis conducted finds that the Indian media has contributed immensely to the polarisation and othering of the Muslim community in the country. The article concludes by making a case for an urgent need for de-polarisation of news in the Indian media landscape to ensure a non-partisan and neutral media that can strengthen democracy.

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