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The Incorrect Image of Islam in the Western Media
submitted by Aymen
on 11/3/02

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the West. Nevertheless, the West has many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that are due to the media, prejudice, and ignorance. Islam is often looked upon as an "extremist", "terrorist" religion. Many people hate Islam and do not want to acknowledge its true teachings. In contrast to what many Westerners think of Islam, Islam is a peaceful religion, which does not promote any forms of "terrorist" actions that kill innocents.

The Historical side of this topic :

Stereotypes about Islam are not new to Western culture. Problems can be traced back 1400 years. At that time, Islam and Christianity were involved in the Crusades in the 11 century. Islam spread quickly to the West, and started to threaten the position of the Christian Church and the ruling class. The Western elites, mainly the governments and the churches, then became highly involved in seeing that negative images were presented about Islam. As a result, not only were battles fought against Islam, but also a war of words was initiated to make sure that Islam would not have any converts or sympathizers in the West. These kinds of actions and feelings that the West had long ago still seem to be the case in the West today.

Today's facts:

Increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the Western media, particularly in the United States, is an inevitable backlash created in the wake of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. For decades, the Soviets provided a convenient enemy. When Public Enemy Number One became a new-found friend, the Europeans and Americans, through their media, looked around for a replacement, which they found in fundamentalists, a word all too frequently used as a synonym for Muslims. This has led to a surge of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, racist attitudes.

How the Islam's image is distorted?

Some of the ideas that the Western people have about Islam are due to the mass media of the West. Reporters who cover the Muslim world often know very little details about it. The media then develops a distorted image of Islam that Western culture adopts.

A major factor, which contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the West, is due to the media's ignorance of selecting their words that describe Muslims. Some common names heard or seen in the news about Muslims are "extremist" or "terrorist". These words are misleading and are mainly anti-Islamic.

With regard to the soldiers, another great misconception that exists is the truth about Jihad or "holy war" in Islam. The ideas of war and violence have become related to the Islamic religion from the media. Jihad is so often apparent in the news because the media thinks it is Islam's justification for war and violence. The Quran says, "Fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah (God) does not love aggression". A Muslim is permitted to take up arms only as an act of self-defense. A Muslim has the right to defend his life, and his property.

Jihad literally means "The struggle in the path of God", or "holy war". However, the Western media often abuses the meaning of jihad by referring to it as a holy war where Muslims unreasonably kill non-believers.

Nowadays by the rising of the internet, there are people who create sites to falsify the Islam's picture by using some of these techniques:

They write affirmation without any proof or by referring to doubtful sources. For example saying: "the Prophet Mohammed (pbsl) was a power-hungry man". This kind of affirmation is very current thing and it is so direct that the reader does not even asking a proof.

Using Quran & Hadith in cunning way:

They write articles based upon a truncated Quran verse or Hadith, and that in most cases, if it is mentioned in whole, say the opposite of what they wants to make swallow of it.

For example, many anti-Islamic sites mentioned that one of the Prophet Mohammed (pbsl) Hadith's is saying that: "One gets married a woman for four things: her wealth, her beauty, her nobility ,her piety.", so the reader will think that the Muslim take care more of beauty and wealth of the woman to marry rather than of her piety!! Nevertheless, the end of the Hadith is "best among you the one who marry a woman for her piety.". By that way, the Hadith will have an opposite meaning.

What are the reasons and solutions?

The main reason is that Muslims do not react enough against anti-Islamic offensive, generally because they lack of information about their own religion, or they are lazy to do such things.

Also, because the media's reports about Islam are incorrect due to ignorance. This is one of the reasons why the West often hates Islam.

These statistics confirm the two reasons already exposed:

More than 90% Of books about Islam who exists in western countries are written by no Muslim persons.

Just after the 11 of September events 75% Of media coverage in west was about Islam and nearly 60% Of the material was negative stories.

There are some solutions to solve that:

At first, it is always interesting to read a few pages to get used to this kind of writings and topics against Islam, who generally contains only words and lacks of real arguments.

Secondly, it is better to learn more about Islam as much as we can, so we would be able to counter efficiently any elaborate and intelligent attacks against Islam.

Finally, we must publish books or more internet sites in western languages to show how these people are dishonest.

With the Western media's spotlight and some Western governmental attitudes, the West is a place where Islam is a name of negativity. The Western media has contributed a great deal to this negative image of Islam. The media often misrepresents and inaccurately explains Islam and its manifestations. Sometimes the media seems to be biased against Islam. When the media distorts the image of Islam, the general public tend to believe it, because the media is a major source of information that the public gets about Islam. This ignorance that the West accumulates from the media leads them into making stereotypes about Islam and associating all Muslims and Arabs together. The West often times views Islam as "fundamental" "extremist" or "discriminatory", but all of these terms have be manipulated, purposely because of biased feelings and accidentally because of ignorance, by the media to present a negative image about Islam. Islam is actually a peaceful and fair religion that most often does not correspond to the media's reports. As Islam grows more and more in the West, Westerners will eventually learn the truth about Islam and find out that these negative stereotypes are incorrect. It is possible that Islam will become one of the biggest religions in the west. As more people follow Islam, the media will start to learn about it, understand it, and report about it in positive ways. As long as the Westerners are educated about Islam, they will probably learn to accept it as well.

Bibliography:

 

-          http://understandingislam.tripod.com

-          http://www.air-islam.com



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