In today's American society, the media has an extremely strong influence on the people's attitudes. Information about events both in this nation and around the world are covered and interpreted by the media before used to inform the American people. Such a method of transmitting information is bound to be biased, since the reporters and researchers are only human themselves, and therefore prone to using personal beliefs and backgrounds to color the news reports passed on to the audience. While expected, not all of the audience is aware of this phenomenon, and it is here that a problem is born. Perhaps if every citizen knew of the personal interpretations that every piece of data goes through before reaching their homes, evening news casts and morning newspapers could be taken in with a grain of salt, recognizing the differences in interpretation. Many listeners of media simply assume that the information they are absorbing is completely impartial and simply the information gathered from events and transmitted across various media sources. However, it is simply not so: whether consciously or otherwise, everyone's familiar evening newscasts reflect the day's events that they want the audience to hear, from the side that they want it heard, accompanied by the emotional images and personal anecdotes that they feel would best get their point across.
While this is an accepted concept of current media, in terms of current events regarding other religions and cultures, this can pose a very large problem. Since the vast majority of the United States identifies themselves as Christians, and there is a rampant problem that Islam is frighteningly absent from the curriculum of schools across America and Europe. Some Islamic experts has contributed this to the notion that the Western world conquered the Muslim world and broke it up into many much smaller states, each much less powerful and dependent. Also, it is a common idea that the victor writes the history books according to his own version of events. With many people coming from a background lacking unbiased information regarding the religion and culture of Islam and its nations, it is no wonder that when the media uses keywords such as "oppression," "terrorists," "Taliban," and "militant," it is no wonder that the American people have developed a negative prejudice against the Islamic religion and everything associated with it. Even the entertainment industry has played a part in shaping American attitudes. Films such as Not Without My Daughter, which portrays an American woman whose husband goes "beserk" after returning to his native Iran, do nothing but enforce common stereotypes of the Muslim people and their culture for uneducated Americans whose only source of instruction regarding the culture is the media and entertainment. The violence and domestic abuse, along with prominent images of Islamic clergy and mosques gave the impression that this was how the religion really was. Other films such as True Lies, Under Siege, and Delta Force only portray Muslims as wife-beating, bomb-throwing swarthy immigrants whose loyalty cannot be trusted.
It is an especially unfortunate conception that Islam holds men much higher above women, and women are simply baby-making housekeepers who have no rights and are forced completely veil themselves in an effort to oppress them so that men may rule the nations. Images of burqah-donned women, stories of honor killings and rights (or lack thereof) of women in Islam strike the heartstrings of the American people who, with no alternate sources of information, believe only how the media portrays the Islamic world.
Contrary to popular belief, the Qur'an explicitly lays out the case for woman's equality: "O people! Reverence your Lord Who created you from a single soul and created of like nature its mate from those two He scattered countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you demand your mutual [rights] and [reverence]...
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Qur 'an. Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Tahrike Tarsile Qur 'an, Inc.: Elmhurst, NY, 2002.
Stowasser, Barbara Freyer. Women in the Qur 'an, Traditions, and Interpretation. Oxford University Press: New York, 1994.
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