The Portrayal of Muslims in the Media

Since the September 2001 9/11 Terrorist attacks in America, Muslims have found themselves increasingly in the media for essentially all the wrong reasons. Although, this is partly the fault of the minority of the religion, it is also the fault of the media who have basically used this tragic incident as a reason to accentuate the portrayal of Muslims in a negative light.

Terrorism is one of the main reasons why Muslims are being presented in the way they are. However what people do not realise is that those terrorists who take it upon themselves to take the lives of hundreds and thousands of innocent people are not really following what their religion tells them to do, therefore it is debatable whether they can be classed as ‘Muslims.’

In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion.

However, in this day and age, people (especially the media) do not care about this and continue to paint Muslims as the ‘evil people.’ It’s as if indirectly the media is trying to show the world that because of what a few people who lost their way did, it really means that every other Muslim would follow in their footsteps and become terrorists. What people need to realise is that there is approximately 2 billion Muslims in this world and if you are to believe everything in the media, it is therefore saying that there are almost 2 billion suicide bombers in this world. How ignorant.

In 2007 on the BBC News Website, one of the subheadings of an article: Muslims are being “demonised” by the British media, with 91% of reports being negative, research commissioned by the London Mayor has found.’ This clearly shows that even the people who aren’t Muslims themselves have realised that nearly all reports that have anything to do with Muslims are negative.

Thus meaning that when someone in the Muslim community does something wrong then they immediately get a lot of media coverage, however if the roles were reversed and that same person was doing something beneficial then it would be most likely that it would be overlooked. In 2012, Christopher Bail wrote an article about the negative portrayal of Muslims in the Media, below is a snippet of what he had to say after conducting thorough research into this:

‘When Muslim organizations put out many messages condemning terrorism, in response to nearly any incident, these press releases were usually dispassionate or mournful, and they received little media coverage.

However, when Muslim groups put out angry and emotional messages in response to various cases of discrimination against other Muslims; these messages got more media attention. To the newspaper-reading and TV-watching public, the impression is that Muslims care little about condemning terrorism and are over-sensitive to Islamophobia,’

Why is it that the world would rather see the negative side to Muslims than anything else?

Where is the ‘equality’ that the Western world seem to always encourage?

It just goes to show how biased the media can be when it benefits them most.

If you’re looking to stereotype – then look at the majority, not the minority.

Not all German people are supporters of Adolf Hitler.

Not all Irish people are supporters of the Irish Republic Army.

Just like that, not all Muslims are terrorists.

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I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist!

Before I begin blogging, I am well aware that this is a very sensitive topic therefore if I offend you in any way, this is not my intention. I am simply blogging my opinions, therefore you do not have to agree with me by any means.

Terrorism.

Many people will automatically think of the September 11 attacks in New York City/Washington DC in 2001 or the July 7 attacks in London in 2005. On both occasions, it has been proved that the attacks were launched by Muslim extremists. The point of this blog is not to defend these extremists, but to show people that because of the foolish mistakes of a small minority of the religion, is it fair to blame every single Muslim?

In 2005, before the July 7 attacks took place in London, it was a normal Thursday morning for me as a 9 year old. I was near the end of Year 5 excited about the coming summer holidays like any child would and it started off as a perfectly normal day. To be perfectly honest, the teachers didn’t tell us exactly what happened afterwards, they just called all the parents of the children to send us all home. Obviously they had to be careful, as one of the bombs that were set off was on the Piccadilly Line in North London, and my primary school was situated between two stations and they did not want to take the risk. As parents came to pick up their children, they all had similar facial expressions, a sense of fear but at the same time a sense of relief that their son/daughter is perfectly okay. My mother was the same, when she saw me; she gave me the tightest hug ever. As I innocently asked my mother what had actually happened, she tried to explain as much as she could without scaring me, bearing in mind I was only 9 years old.

I can’t remember much about that day, but I do remember watching news channels and reading newspapers afterwards and being absolutely terrified. At that time I didn’t understand why people would do things like this, and to be honest, even now, at the age of 17, I still don’t understand why. But I guess that’s something that we will never know.

Anyway, we had a day off school the next day (Friday). When we returned on Monday, things had subtly changed and I didn’t realise this until a fellow classmate came up to me obviously noticing the colour of my skin (as my school wasn’t really multicultural so there were very few people with an obvious South Asian heritage), and asked me: ‘Are you a Muslim?’ I didn’t think that was a bad thing to ask as you can never know a person’s religion if they are not wearing the Hijab or Turban or any other religious garment. So, I replied with a ‘Yes.’ She then asked me innocently: ‘Does that mean you’re going to be a terrorist when you’re older?’ Surprised, I replied back with ‘Of course not!’ It was her next sentence which shocked me: ‘But you’re a Muslim! That means you’re going to be a terrorist!’ she exclaimed. I was so shocked. I had only recently learnt what that word meant after having heard the word on more than one occasion I had asked someone in my family who told me and here I was as a 9 year old being accused of potentially being a terrorist when I was older because of my faith.

It’s not right to do that to anyone, let alone a 9 year old. Thinking back now, no 9 year old could come up with something like that on her own, it must’ve been talked about in her family or by whoever was looking after her. Anyway, I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, or anyone afterwards I don’t really know why but I just chose not to. As I grew older, I realised that this was a common thing in society and it is so sad because there is a minority of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (23% of the world’s population)* that take part in horrific terrorist attacks in the name of our god, Allah (swt) which is completely wrong but the rest of the people in the same faith have to put up with the wrath of it?

The one thing I would like to stress from this blog is that not all Muslims in this world are terrorists; therefore it isn’t fair to blame us all for the mistakes of the dim-witted minority.

 

 

* 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.