Student Thoughts: Media perpetuates misconceptions about Islam

Isra Amin / Contributing Writer

Friday, Nov. 13, a series of mass shootings and suicide bombings took place in Paris, France. The terrorist attacks, which occurred both at the Bataclan Theater and outside of the Stade de France, are reported to have been the deadliest attack on French soil since the second World War. It was confirmed that 129 victims died and another 415 were injured.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant claimed responsibility for the terrorism. Hence, another terrorist attack done by violent Islamist extremists. An outpouring of solidarity and prayers were shown through social media; and another seemingly hopeless justification of islamophobia and media “censorship” was exposed.

This past weekend, many different reactions were observed from heads of states to said social media. François Hollande, the president of France, declared that the attacks were “an act of war” and issued a response on Nov. 15 to drop bombs on ISIL’s base. While most reactions sympathized with the victims, the recent attacks fueled an islamophobic atmosphere, which demonized Muslims and held them responsible for the attacks.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has already confirmed threats made against a couple of mosques. Republican front runner, Donald Trump, has advocated to close down certain mosques, supporting his decision by saying, “You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques”.

Muslim American leaders immediately responded. Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman stated, “It is truly outrageous that the leading Republican presidential candidate would announce openly that he would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by closing down religious institutions.”

Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, also responded, “That the Republican front-runner for president is calling for the closing down of religious institutions in the land of religious freedom is outrageous.”

According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, an FBI report shows that violent Islamist extremists account for six percent of terrorism on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 and that Americans are “more likely to die from brain-eating parasites, alcoholism, obesity, medical errors and risky sexual behavior or just about anything other than terrorism.”

However, the public is not entirely to blame for these misconceptions about terrorism. People simply react to whatever may appear on their television and computer screens. For example, ISIL was behind the Baghdad market truck bombing on Aug. 23, which killed 76 people. They also claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 37 people on Nov. 12.

The Islamist group Al-Shabaab, a subset of Al-Qaeda, killed 147 students in Kenya at Garissa University on April 2, 2015. Did the coverage for these victims even compare to the coverage of Paris?

The media disproportionately and selectively reporting on events results in more damage than simply not reporting. It creates a false atmosphere, a perceived reality where Muslims commit most of the terrorism and the only lives in danger are white lives.

This has long passed the point where people can have a debate about good journalism and censorship. The selective reporting done by the mainstream media has fueled a hopeless, long and futile ideology that misplaces the blame on ordinary, law-abiding Muslims and primarily recognizes the value of white lives that perish compared to the same terrorism done in other countries.

This is not an agenda in favor of only Muslims or to subtract from the relevance of the Paris victims. To simply adjust the level of prayers, tears and solidarity to the proportion of media coverage is simply not an educated, healthy or justifiable method for fostering a safe environment. To impose the false notion that Muslims are terrorists is not simply a factual error, but a consequential mistake.

[Image from Flickr]

3 Comments on "Student Thoughts: Media perpetuates misconceptions about Islam"

  1. We have relatively little Islamic terror, because less than 1% of our population is Muslim. Compare this to France, at 10% and one can see our advantage. If Muslims are already committing domestic terror at 6 times their percent of the population, I shudder to imagine what would happen with a larger percentage.

  2. This 6% is from 1980 to 2005 and compared to other groups this is actually small. From the same FBI database, it concluded that from that same timeline, 7% is from violent Jewish extremists and communists at 5%. Since 9/11, more than a hundred thousands of Americans have been murdered from unrelated issues to terrorism. From the same source, Islamic terrorism “doesn’t even count for 1 percent” of the 180,000 murders in the US since 9/11. Just because the media emphasizes the most on Islamic terrorism, it doesn’t conclude that other terrorism doesn’t exist.

    Also, almost a quarter of humanity identify as Muslim. By the math of your statement, we should all be dead.

  3. Jake Tendly | May 26, 2017 at 8:32 AM | Reply

    Linda Sarsour is insane. She wears a hijab and proclaims feminism. She states Sharia law is women empowerment. Why are you even quoting her!? We have a problem in the U.S. already. I was at the Paris attack and let me tell you, after going through something like that your perspective changes. Sharia is an ideology that murders homosexuals and represses women. Give me a break, take the social justice warrior blinders off before we end up like Europe!!!.

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