Muslims Are Betrayed In the Media
Numerous studies indicate that the media has a profound impact on public opinion. The media generally receives news of various social, political and economic events in order to relay them to the average viewer, listener or reader. However, the influence the media has on the public can be both positive and negative. With respect to the Muslim community, the British media has exercised more of a betrayal approach than a positive portrayal. This can primarily be blamed on the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks. The word Muslim has also been drawn out of context in most of the media reports and news. Negative reflections of Muslims make the headlines without taking into consideration that the stereotype is extreme.
Muslims in the UK continuously complain of the marginalization and demonization they suffer from the media. One of the major stories that made headlines involved to Muslim brothers that were arrested in an inhumane manner. The media had projected the story setting the basis on the fact that they were both Muslims. Allegations forwarded by the police claimed that the two were plotting a biological attack. The raid did not consider their fundamental rights as members of the British society. The portrayal of the media for the two brothers was not a new approach towards terrorism and Muslims.
Many Muslims have fallen victim of Islamophobia. This is a renewed concept in the British society and the entire western world. Terrorism and other related evils are strongly associated with Muslims. However, this perception does not take into consideration that terrorists can be of other religions. The reality is that terrorism is driven by extremists and not religion. One story in The Telegraph displayed how a man killed his two daughters in honor of Islam. The article played key focus on the fact that Yaser was Muslim, and it did not take any other consideration of him as a criminal.
Muslim honor killing is stated to be the approach taken by Yaser in order to kill his daughters (Duell 3). The motive was that is daughters were dating non-Muslims. Consequently, the Muslim religion has been demonized in the story. The main emphasis of the story is that the religion drives individuals towards heinous crimes like those of Yaser. However, the Islamic religion is centered on principles of peace, understanding and tolerance. In addition, the story was tracing the man back to New York where he was a cab driver. When Muslims are generalized in such stories, public perception is inclined towards the focal point of the headline. The impact is that the public perception changes to consider Muslims as murderers who act in honor of their religion.
Another article by the Mail Online displays the story of a man who killed his three daughters. The article headline played keen emphasis on the fact that the man was Muslim. The story states that the man had done the act in honor of Islam (Daily Mail Reporter). It was an action undertaken because the daughters were getting married to the wrong men. Shaffia was the prime suspect in the killing basing on the evidence that was found in the car. He had also called his daughters prostitutes for marrying the men and bringing him shame. The article also states that the Shaffia is not remorseful for what he did.
The article once again uses the word “Muslim” in the headline just like other articles that have Muslim articles. This therefore highlights the role of the Islamic religion in the crime. It also states that it is an honor killing. The first presumption people would have is that it is in honor of Islam. The reality is that the man felt that his daughters had brought shame to his house. Therefore, the Islamic religion is not the main motivation for his killing. However, by reading the article headline one might easily resolve that Islam drove the man to murder the three women.
Britain has become the central zone for terrorism in recent years. The controversial and disputed military campaigns overseas have seen the country at a higher risk of terror attacks and extremists. The dangers of terrorism have risen to unprecedented proportions since 2007. In addition to these statistics, the number of attacks and attempted attacks has also been on the rise. With these numbers on the rise, police have also increased their approach towards terrorism. They have launched the global war on terrorism. This has resulted to an increase in the number of arrests on suspected terrorists. In addition, the government created laws to detain the terror suspects to six months without any charges.
The Trend Report and European Union Terrorism Situation have reported that terror related arrests in increased in the United Kingdom. In 2007, 203 suspects were arrested. This was 30 percent up from the year 2006. However, the article revealing the arrest of the two brothers highlights that the arrests are primarily based on people from Islamic states, religion and origin. The shooting of one of the brothers is also considered an infringement of their human rights. Since the 7/7 attacks, Muslims have been targeted by the police on suspicions of terror attacks. The arrests are carried out on Muslims without conceivable evidence.
United Kingdom media has been extremely biased on reporting such arrests and approaches towards Muslims. The story on the two brothers is evident of the level of media bias. Various stories on the arrest made it look like the police had caught the real criminals. The headlines were broadcasted on both print and digital media. Therefore, many people were reached by the information conformed by the media. The entire audience followed what the media had relayed to them. Ultimately, the media shaped the perception that the two brothers were responsible for the terror attack.
The media in England use various approaches towards relaying information to the public. One of the ways in which Muslims are demonized is through the omission of some critical information that is useful to the pubic (Bryfonski 45). When some information is omitted, people lack a proper understanding of the issue at hand. People draw their own conclusions on the story. This has been a common occurrence on issues related to Muslims and the image of their religion. For instance, the two brothers who were arrested were indeed innocent. However, after the police established this, they stated their remorse for the approach they had taken. This aspect of the story was not a major headline for most media houses. Consequently, the public were not made aware of the new findings. This selective approach by the media has also increased the level of Islamophobia in the United Kingdom and the rest of the Western world.
The media has been a catalyst of the souring relations between the public and those of the Islamic religion. Muslims have therefore become victims of some overzealous sections in media entities. The terrorist definition of Islam has also been imposed blindly on Islamic communities that live in the United Kingdom. Ultimately, British Muslims have become disenfranchised and silenced. Sections of the media have been on the forefront to encourage that the Muslims should be overtaken by fringe elements. They whip up passions through the iconography of angry and extremist Muslims. However, this section of Muslims discredits the rest of England’s Muslim population.
The Muslim community categorically rejects terror and violence. This rejection is particularly focused on issues of national interest and politics. Muslim groups in the United Kingdom have unreservedly condemned the 7th July terror attack in the UK. Those in the UK have also voiced their discontent for the act of terror. However, the media has failed in its responsibility to convey this message. It has failed to offer sufficient prominence towards the overwhelming condemnation of Muslims. There is lack of balance on these issues of terror and reflection of the Muslim community (Lewis, 56).
The tragedy created by the media has also affected the way Muslims view themselves. Constantly, the reports from the media show only one side of the Muslim community. People of this religion feel marginalized in society. The media has redefined how Muslims view themselves as citizens in Britain. Many Muslims have been forced to propitiate prejudice from other people. However, the media and public perception make this task quite difficult. The imagery and headlines that are emitted almost on a daily basis from the media is the major hindrance towards creating a positive perception of the Muslims in England.
The word Muslim makes the most headlines with respect to acts of terror in UK media. The initial approach was undertaken after the 9/11 and July 7 attacks. The media has been using the word to relate with negative issues and terror. However, it is interesting to note that people from other religions rarely have their religious inclinations in the headlines when they are engaged in criminal activities. The story of the two fathers who killed their daughters in the Mail Online and The Telegraph are a revelation of how the media associates evil acts with Islam. In addition, they are portrayed as guilty criminals even before undergoing trial in court.
In 2006, the Sun Newspaper published an exclusive story about some criminal Muslim group in the UK. The report described in graphic detail the formation of a “Muslim hate mob” (Duell 4). The mob was stated to be involved in the vandalism of a house in Windsor. It was also perceived as a vendetta to stop British soldiers arriving from the Afghan war from renting the house. The newspaper formed the opinion that the Muslims were on a hate mission against British soldiers in the Afghan war. However, it was later established that Muslims were not involved in the crime. Evidence in the crime established that there was no Muslim involvement.
These stories have been used by the media creating a sense of suspicion among the citizens. Many people relay on the media as their main source of information. Public perception is shaped by the information they receive from the media. With such stories, hostilities are bound to be created between the public and the Muslim community. The Sun created a sensational assertion that Muslims were responsible for the vandalism. With the wide readership it enjoys, there is little doubt that people become suspicious of the Muslims community. The story portrayed Muslims as the main source of trouble.
Islamophobia denotes irrational fear, prejudice or hatred of Muslims (Bryfonski, 32). The concept has been growing in recent years especially in the Western world. In the UK it has increased since the 7/7 (July 7) attacks. Islamophobia has been blamed largely on the media in the United Kingdom. According to research majority of the people in the UK blame the media for Islamophobia. Islamophobia has become so dominant that it is slowly receiving acceptance in the society. However, this does not look into the fact that it is an infringement of human rights. Muslims are adversely affected as they have been discriminated in the social, political and economic aspects.
However, the media in the UK is slowly hanging its approach towards the Muslim community. The realization that it is responsible for the increased Islamophobia has made the media reconsider its approach towards Islamic issues. Reports from media houses are also becoming positive and highlighting the plight of the Muslim community. Media houses are also establishing policies that will set an equal ground for all citizens in the UK. Action is also taken against media houses that portray negative images. For instance, the Sun was forced to retract its story on the “Muslim mob” by the Press Complaints Commission.
In conclusion, the media is resourceful towards shaping and influencing public opinion. The stories that are relayed to the public are important. However, they should not be biased or target a particular section of society. The media in the UK is partly to blame for the negative perception of the Muslims. However, this can be remedied if the government and relevant authorities establish policies that will regulate the media. In addition, these laws must be applied and implemented with respect to the laws of the country. It is also the role of the public to question some aspects of media reports in order to make them accountable.
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