Written by Anis Adrina Md Nor
The contemporary perception of people especially Western people towards Islam have been negative as there are a lot of media reports on Muslims’ hostile acts. During the event when there is any terrorists attack, people would immediately relate it with Muslims and Islam although the fact about the attack is unclear.
The prejudice against Muslim started even before the 9/11 attacks in the United States, however, the events and other violence actions by terrorists after that period has caused an increase in anti-Muslim attitudes in many countries. This anti-Muslim sentiment also has been contributed by the modern media framing of Islam where Muslims are pictured primarily as dangerous, hostile, threatening, and untrustworthy terrorists.
This anti-Muslim perception is also known as Islamophobia. Generally, Islamophobia as the fear of Islam or Muslims. The consistent rise of Islamophobia continues to harm global and also regional peace, security and stability by disrupting attempts to promote a multicultural approach which formed understanding, respect and tolerance of religious.
It is believed that Islamophobia has been a result of media in the Western. If we take a look at Western media, most of the contents about Islam in the entertainment media produced were mixed with insult and were broadcast globally.
The Western media are likely to characterise Islam in the negative term continuously with highlighting the terrorism, violence, extremism and antipathy with Islam to the West. In a study, it is found that from 900 Western films, Muslim characters in particular Arab were portrayed to be extremist, racist and irrational.
The agenda of insult by popular entertainment media and the impact of injury by Western news are to create hatred, humiliation and to spread propaganda against Muslim world and Islam. The case of terrorism such as the 11 September 2001 (9/11) incident which saw the terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airplanes and launch suicide attacks upon the United States, killing almost three thousand, have led Muslims to be in the media spotlight.
Not only in Western, representation of Muslims in the Australian media has been stereotyped routinely since 2001 and this has negative influence on how non-Muslims Australian percept Islam and treat Muslims. For instance a study found that The Australian is the most frequent to identify Islam as ‘problem’ in which 30 percent of the articles in the publication portrayed Islam as a ‘problem’. Further more, in the media, Islam and violence are linked widely with the most of the emphasis are characterised by mixing the terrorism and Islam (Anderson, 2015).
Considering the media effected to the public’s mind, it can create the perception of the Western people about Islam as the mass media of the West where the journalists who cover about Muslim world possess very little information about Islam and developed a distorted image of Islam which later adopted in Western culture.
In Time magazine, there was a time where they printed a photograph of Muslim soldiers performing prayers with gun with the caption “Guns and prayer go together in the fundamentalist battle“, where the magazine did not state the fact that the Muslim soldiers were praying on a battlefield in Afghanistan.
Islamophobia is also due to the misinformation about Muslims to the Western public via the images on many forms of media and Muslims are often labelled as terrorists and this has become a usual image to public that Muslims are terrorists.
Another factor that is often to be overlooked as contributor to the rise of Islamophobia is the length of news slot that is dedicated in covering radicalisation and terrorism. Islamophobia is always discussed in the setting of the debate of how Muslims and Islams are presented in the media.
Mainstream news outlets like CNN would provide half of its airtime in an hour of news reports to discuss the Muslim violence and radicalisation. The time spent to reports on the Islam matters can influence people’s mind as it has the prim effect, where, people will think that the issue is important based on its number of reportings.