Impacts of the Media on the Muslim Community
Today’s media has transformed lives and people’s perceptions of various concepts in ways that only a few anticipated. Just a decade or so ago, life was different: people communicated face-to-face, technology was applied limitedly, and social media sites had not consumed society. Perhaps, nowhere is the media effect felt more than the Muslim community. In the modern era, every terrorist attack, national disagreement or scandal that involves the Muslim community is put under the microscope by the media.
Figure 1 below shows the way Muslim-related news makes headlines in the media. The assumption is that a fatal event makes instant headlines when a Muslim community is involved. In the other case, the media digresses to determine if the victims are Muslims and whether they could have brought it on themselves.
The idea of Islamophobia is common in the current society. People have been made to believe that Muslims are associated with terrorism, and the disguise towards members of the Islam community is clear to see. Different media outlets, especially online media, have portrayed Muslims negatively and created impressions in people’s minds that are hard to erase. Today, those dressed in Islam gowns are more suspected in controversy than others who do not. Muslims are linked to terror activities and considered threats to humanity (Saeed 445). The media’s portrayal of Muslims as violent people has not helped one bit. In fact, Mastracci says that The New York Times depicts Muslims more negatively than even cancer.
Figure 1. The way Muslim-related news makes headlines in the media from “Was the Chapel Hill Shooting Incident not Covered Fairly in Western Media, Especially in the US?”; Quora; 11 Feb. 2015, www.quora.com/Was-the-Chapel-Hill-Shooting-incident-not-covered-fairly-in-Western-media-especially-in-the-US#.
There is a notable and significant bias towards Muslims in the media, and it influences their relations with other people. An innocent person may believe that all Muslims are terrorists if that is all the individual reads or watches in the media. The media often allocates shared accountability to the entire Muslim community for violent attacks when it is evident that only a few are involved.
In essence, the media has played an important role in how many people perceive the Muslims over the years. Actually, it is near impossible to hear anyone say that they have heard no information about Islam from the media. The problem of bias reporting makes it difficult to control the amount of information that reaches people. Being constantly in the media has been mostly a jinx to the Muslim community (Saeed 450). For a Muslim, one is exposed to everyday information and lies about the threat posed to society. The result is that someone may develop blind hatred towards Muslims and refuse to associate with them.
Furthermore, the negative portrayal of Muslims affects the way they interact with other people in social institutions, especially schools. In effect, it is hard to convince someone that a Muslim is different from the rest when all they hear is that Islam is responsible for all the violence in the world. The media is the main source of information about Islam, but it mainly provides negative information (Mastracci). Chiefly, those individuals who only listen to ideas and opinions from the media are likely to develop unjustified hatred toward Muslims if they do not get to meet and interact with one.
In summary, the media has indeed portrayed Muslims negatively and associated them with every violence, disharmony, and terrorist activity over the years. In fact, this negative description influences people’s perception to believe that all Muslims are violent. Muslims in different social institutions are likely to be discriminated or isolated as a result. People who only get information from the media are likely to develop unjustified hatred toward Muslims as they associate them with terror activities. The media continues to provide a lot of information about different sects of the community, but Muslims seem to be the most affected by this negative portrayal.
The following recommendations target mostly young people and are based on the belief that it is easier to change young people’s mindset than it is for older ones. Besides, young people are tomorrow’s generation, and they are tasked with making it better than the present one. Therefore, this paper recommends that:
The government should declare no tolerance policy and ensure that there are consequences of bias and discriminative reporting of Muslim community by the media.
Society should expect more from young people in terms of social development, create in children the mindset of equableness and demand them to treat one another fairly regardless of race.
Journalists should be held answerable and those who portray Islam negatively should be punished by short jail terms or hefty fines and lengthy suspensions.
Mastracci, Davide. “NY Times Portrays Islam More Negatively than Cancer, Major Study Finds.” The Alternet, 29 Feb. 2016, www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/ny-times-portrays-islam-more-negatively-cancer-major-study-finds. Accessed May 8, 2017.
Saeed, Amir. “Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media.” Sociology Compass, vol. 1, no. 2, 2007, pp. 443-62.