Due Date: 11-14-2009 and Presentation on 11-21-2009
Hafiz M. K. Siddiqui
Introduction to Islam
Islam & Muslims in Western Media
In July 12, 2008 publication of the New York Times, it was reported that the President of Sri Lanka was killed in a suicide attack. The religion of the suicide bomber was never reported. The very same newspaper (on November 5, 2009), reported that how a Muslim attacker attacked the US Base and killed US army soldiers. This discrimination against the Muslims and Islam is nothing but the fruit of Western Media’s propaganda against the Muslims and Islam. In Western countries, Islam is often looked upon as an "extremist", "terrorist", or "fundamental" religion. In many cases, the media’s reports about Islam are incorrect due to ignorance. This is one of the reasons why the West often hates Islam. In contrast to what many Westerners think of Islam, Islam is a peaceful religion, which does not promote any forms of uncalled for fighting or "terrorist" actions. Today, the West, without knowing what Islam is all about, has identified a new enemy, "a new demon that has replaced the Red menace of the Cold war, i.e., radical Islam" (Agha 6). This "radical Islam", a stereotype common to western thought, portrays Muslims as fundamentalists or potential terrorists. These thoughts and ideas are the product of anti-Islam propaganda of the western media. Journalists who have no idea about the Muslim World are the one who are talking the most about how evil and barbaric is Islam and its followers. The media then develops a distorted image of Islam that Western culture adopts (Agha 2).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". Another factor was writing affirmation about Islam and its adherents without any proof or by using doubtful references. This affirmation is put in a very direct way so that the reader may not even ask for proof. The problem does not end with the selection of authentic sources but it continues to the point where these sources are also misquoted especially with regard to the Qur'an & Hadith; the truncation if the Qur'an and Hadith are not mentioned as a whole and interpreted by including the necessary contexts, the end result may indicate the opposite of what is really meant. These words are misleading and are mainly anti-Islamic. The media rarely uses more neutral terms such as "revivalist" or "progressives" (Hassan 2). Adding to the fact that the media creates inaccurate ideas about Islam, the Western media is also very influential to its audiences in making negative Islamic stereotypes, such as the assertion that all Muslims are fundamentalists. A fundamentalist, in fact, only represents a normal Muslim who follows his or her religion. Fundamentalism means an attitude, an effort, or a movement that an ideology, group, or religion tries to promote in its fundamental beliefs. The "fundamental" beliefs of a Muslim is to believe in only one God (Allah) and the Prophet Mohammed is His messenger (PBUH), pray five times a day, fast the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca. This means that all Muslims are fundamentalists if they believe in their own religion’s fundamentals. Although the western media is uncomfortable with religious groups, it focuses heavily on "Islamic fundamentalism". A majority of the media’s reports that talk about Islamic fundamentalism usually describes most Muslims as extremists. This shows how the media is ignorant, because Islam specifically prohibits any forms of extremism. The Prophet Mohammed said, "Those persons who go to extremes (in practicing their religion) were cursed (by God)". The media most often portrays Muslim "fundamentalists" prostrating themselves before God in prayer. For example, in the October 4 issue...