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Media Portrayal and Its Impact on Muslims

Introduction

In different parts of the world, mass media outlets have remained the main sources of ideas and information about Islam. Modern technologies are transforming the way people share concepts or communicate. Emerging platforms such as social media are making interactions among people easier than ever before. Since many people rely on the media, it has been impossible for the global society to get a clear or true picture of this religion. This has been the case because the media has a tendency of focusing on the issues or extremes of Islam and its followers. This research paper digs deeper in order to understand how this portrayal continues to impact many Muslims across the world.

Media Portrayal of Muslims

The ultimate goal of the media should be to provide information that is moderate, fair, and nonpartisan. This approach will ensure that different stakeholders and consumers of ideas are served efficiently. Unfortunately, many media houses and groups have not been keen to deliver such aims or objectives. Ahmed and Matthes (2016) acknowledge that the tendency of different media platforms is to focus on extreme, sensational, and unusual reports that can attract a wide public following. Hassan, Azmi, and Abubakar (2017) use the term “mass media of Islam” to describe how religion is treated in different societies. This kind of media has made it impossible for the global society to have a clear knowledge of the true nature and purpose of faith.

Hassan et al. (2017) argue that Islam is an ideology that continues to be portrayed and popularized as a violence-prone religious group. Different newspapers and television channels have encouraged many people to acknowledge that the religion’s doctrines are against the ones embraced in the West. Muslim identity is something that has been defined by mass media as a powerful force that is opposed to the ideals of the world. Considine (2017) uses the term “Islamophobia” to describe the main discourse pursued by the media in different regions. This means that many people have developed a negative understanding or interpretation of Islam as a religion.

In many films and documentaries, Muslims are portrayed as fanatics and murderous individuals who promote global unrest. This issue is also associated with computer games (Hassan et al., 2017). The crude images popularized by the media go further to identify followers of Islam as unsympathetic and unforgiving individuals. They are believed to promote malpractices such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. Gender inequality is also seen as an issue that continues to affect many women in Islamic societies or regions.

With the increasing levels of terrorism in different parts of the world, the media has been on the frontline to depict Islam as the region behind this global predicament. Considine (2017) asserts that the current situation developed or intensified following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The global society was inclined to believe that the Islamic world was at war with the West. Most of the movies and publications presented by different media outlets across the globe indicated that followers of this faith were bigoted and violent (Hassan et al., 2017). They were also labeled as extremists whose intentions and goals were to be monitored carefully by the global society.

Due to this negative role played by the media, the problem of Islamophobia has become a reality in every society. The situation is that many people are afraid of Muslims because they believe that they are dangerous. Some of the events experienced in different parts of the world have resulted in a situation whereby more individuals are unable to relate positively to Muslims (Ahmed & Matthes, 2016). For instance, the Charlie Hebdo attack recorded in France and the actions undertaken by the Islamic State group (ISIL) have made it easier for different media houses to show videos and images that link Islam to terrorism.

Effects on Muslims

The media has continued to deceive people about the true nature of Islam as one of the oldest religions in the world today. The current propaganda is that followers of the faith are savages, terrorists, and extremists whose agenda is to deny people their rights and freedoms. Different media outlets portray Muslims as primitive, irrational, and dangerous individuals who should be avoided by all means (Considine, 2017). This kind of depiction has not been based on the truth or facts about Islam. Consequently, it had a great impact on many followers of this faith.

Treatment

The stereotypes and notions embraced by many people in the Western world have created the best environment for the media to dent Islam’s image much further (Bleich, Nisar, & Abdelhamid, 2015). This has resulted in a scenario whereby followers of this religion are treated negatively. Malpractice has become common because many people believe that terrorists are dangerous and can claim lives. This scenario has encouraged many individuals to be against Muslims. Hassan et al. (2017) acknowledge that different police officers find it easier to single out members of this religion and accuse them of various acts of violence. This misconduct has become common in many countries across Europe and North America (Ahmed & Matthes, 2016). This has been the case because followers of this faith are viewed as radicals whose ideals revolve around war, instability, and inequality.

The media has encouraged and guided many communities to treat members of this religion negatively because it promotes a wide range of malpractices. For instance, some experts have indicated that the media has been keen to indicate that many Islamic societies promote malpractices such as violence against women, child abuse, and male chauvinism (Considine, 2017). Since these misbehaviors are uncommon in the West, it has become easier for many individuals to be against Islamic culture.

With these challenges in place, the wave of Islamophobia has been taken to the next level. This means that many people would not be willing to relate positively to members of this religion. They would also choose learning institutions and neighborhoods that do not have Muslims. This problem has made it impossible for many Christians and Muslims to communicate positively (Hassan et al., 2017). Consequently, numerous challenges such as discrimination based on racial and religious backgrounds have emerged in different nations across Europe and America. The current situation has made it impossible for the affected individuals to achieve their potential and lead better lives.

Image

As described earlier, the mainstream media has succeeded in distorting the image of Islam across the globe. Many people view Muslims as extremists who are unable to relate positively to different members of society (Ahmed & Matthes, 2016). The media has continued to create and promote inappropriate ideas about this religion. This issue has resulted in stereotypes that appear to be embraced by many people in different parts of the world. A good example is that Muslims tend to be viewed as “fundamentalists” (Hassan et al., 2017). Although this term refers to people who are keen to focus on the teachings of their religions, the media has distorted its definition in such a way that it only presents the negativities associated with Islam.

The positive attributes of Islam are unreported or go unnoticed. For instance, issues such as human and women’s rights have been viewed negatively in different regions. This is the case because many people believe that Islam promotes malpractices such as Jihad (also known as holy war). A major misconception has emerged whereby Islam has been linked to violence. Many people in the West acknowledge that this religion must have spread the usage of the sword (Bleich et al., 2015). This means that most of the individuals involved in terrorist activities might be focusing on the best methods to force people to convert and become members of the religion.

This negative image has taken shape because of the role of the media. Experts in global issues and political relations have asserted that the situation might get out of hand as more cases of terrorism continue to be reported (Considine, 2017). The image can also affect the experiences and outcomes of many Muslims in every corner of the world. This is the reason why an attitude change is needed in an attempt to transform this negative image.

Economic Empowerment

In countries such as America, the issue of diversity is taken seriously in order to promote economic development and empower individuals from every cultural background. Unfortunately, the portrayal of Muslims in the mainstream media is a practice that has affected the well-being and welfare of many individuals in society. With Islamophobia becoming a major problem, many Muslims are finding it hard to be absorbed in the community. This gap makes it hard for them to pursue their academic and career goals (Ahmed & Matthes, 2016). The increasing level of discrimination discourages many Muslims in countries such as the United States to pursue their economic objectives.

In different corporations, employment opportunities tend to be unavailable to the members of this religion. The fact that many leaders and managers view Muslims as potential security threats explains why they find it hard to get new job opportunities. Those who are engaged in personal economic activities are unable to attract enough customers. This is the case because many individuals would not want to be associated with members of this religion (Considine, 2017). This challenge makes it impossible for many Muslims in different Western nations to achieve their goals. The situation has worsened since most of the initiatives put in place to deal with the problem of Islamophobia have not delivered positive results (Hassan et al., 2017). As more media channels and outlets continue to portray Muslims negatively, the chances are high that they will be unable to achieve their potential.

Social Integration

Considine (2017) observes that many Muslims are not accepted or integrated into different societies in the West. This challenge has emerged because many people have been informed about the capabilities and goals of many extremist groups led by Muslims. Every act of terrorism is analyzed deeply by the media in an attempt to present Islam as a religion that pursues the idea of Jihad. This malpractice has encouraged many people to be against the religion and its followers (Hassan et al., 2017). The outcome has been that many people no longer want to associate with or relate positively to the members of this faith.

New predicaments such as increased cases of discrimination and abuse against members of this religion continue to be reported. Police departments also find it hard to relate positively to Muslims. This issue explains why prejudice and discrimination based on religious lines are some of the major problems affecting many societies today (Bleich et al., 2015). Those who are affected by this predicament find it hard to achieve their goals and lead positive lives. The problem has worsened since many underage children are exposed to computer games and television programs that continue to misguide them regarding the position of Muslims in contemporary society (Considine, 2017). Similarly, individuals who decide to live in communities occupied by members of this religion will also face discrimination and be unable to achieve their potential.

Recommendations

The media has failed to learn more about Islam and deliver the right messages to their customers. Considine (2017) indicates that Islam is a fair and peaceful religious group that promotes enviable ideals and teachings. This is a clear indication that its core values are unrelated to the messages popularized by different media outlets. The current situation can only be addressed by encouraging and guiding the media to perform their duties intelligently (Hassan et al., 2017). The proposed move will ensure that truthful information about Islam is shared with different members of the global community. As a result, every individual will be willing to deal with the existing stereotypes since they are unethical, incorrect, and capable of promoting global animosity (Hassan et al., 2017). When the media is willing to learn more and understand this religion, it will report it in a positive manner and address most of the challenges existing today.

The second recommendation is for individuals to focus on the truth about Islam. This approach will make it easier for them to understand the true nature of terrorism and why it is not part of the religion’s teachings. The acquired knowledge will encourage more people from different religions to live harmoniously. Individuals from every background will support each other and engage in activities that can promote global peace. The level of Islamophobia in different communities will also reduce significantly (Considine, 2017). More people will find it easier to achieve their economic goals and succeed in life. Consequently, the global community will be in a position to promote peace and unity.

Conclusion

Many Muslims blame different media houses for the current troubles facing them. This happens to be the case because they offer misleading news and reports that portray Islam as a religion of Jihadists and extremists. The malpractice has affected them negatively. It will, therefore, be appropriate for mass media outlets and journalists to engage in ethical reporting and offer the right information. This move will deal with the predicaments facing members of this faith and make it easier for them to achieve their potential.

References

Ahmed, S., & Matthes, J. (2016). Media representation of Muslims and Islam from 2000 to 2015: A meta-analysis. International Communication Gazette, 79(3), 219-244. Web.

Bleich, E., Nisar, H., & Abdelhamid, R. (2015). The effect of terrorist events on media portrayals of Islam and Muslims: Evidence from New York Times headlines, 1985-2013. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(7), 1109-1127. Web.

Considine, C. (2017). The racialization of Islam in the United States: Islamophobia, hate crimes, and “flying while brown”. Religions, 8, 165-183. Web.

Hassan, I., Azmi, M. N., & Abubakar, U. I. (2017). Funding Islam in news reporting: A comparative content analysis. Asian Social Science, 13(10), 112-119. Web.