|The Incorrect Image of Islam in the Western Media
submitted by Aymen
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.