I wanted to address the representation of Muslims in the media and how this is largely negative. Islamophobia and the negative connotations around the attitude are largely brought about by ignorance fueled by fear-mongering media outlets and public personalities.
Within the last decade, Muslims have been continuously framed in a negative light with Islam being portrayed as an extremely violent religion, a study by Saifuddin Ahmed and Jörg Matthes (2017) found. Often it is the journalists masking casual bigotry as a neutral line of questioning which takes the conversation exactly where they want it to be. They know the most controversial topics that will raise the most discussion and they jump on board this train to the detriment of Muslims everywhere.
A recent example is Pauline Hanson and her burqa ‘scare’ where she made Muslims once more be seen as limiting individual freedoms and threatening national security instead of realising that true freedom comes from allowing people to make their own choices and defending that right. With media cycles, discrimination is seen with what they choose not to say rather than what they do say. Opening conversation to the stunt by simply stating what had happened rather than condemning it creates this casual bigotry.
Arana writes in his 2015 article, “when producers dream up panel discussions about whether Islam is a violent religion, they aren’t merely ‘asking the question’: they’re perpetuating prejudice. Yes, a good percentage of Americans hold this view, but the role of us in the media is to dispel such myths — not legitimize them. Ultimately, presenting tolerance and bigotry as equally valid sides of a balanced debate only ends up fueling bigotry.”
A good example:
The following photoshopped image was the front cover of a major newspaper in Spain, La Razon, saying that Veerender Jubbal was involved in the Paris attacks. This man is not even Muslim but clearly Sikh due to his turban but he was affiliated with Islam, turned into a Muslim terrorist and then subjected to countless messages of hate and violence.
On the flip side of this issue comes the need for Muslims to condemn attacks. Why is this so important? Isn’t it abundantly clear that no decent person, regardless of their religion could support such acts of terror? All ideologies can be taken in any form. Communism can be seen in theory as a political ideology that promotes equality for all citizens yet it becomes much more nuanced when accounting for certain factors such as age. Islamophobia needs to end and one word from you, a casual reader, can make all the difference.