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Topic:
Belief Systems

Question
How has the media influenced people’s view on the Islamic?

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Introduction
Islam is the religious faith of Muslims, it is the belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet. Islam is a known belief and is practised in many diverse countries, but it is mainly practised in the Middle East and in Arab countries. The way that the media is expected to show an unbiased picture, but due to events that have taken place and that are also occurring now. Islam has been negatively portrayed. The western media has a very strong influence not only in the western world but also internationally. There is a recurring connection of Islam with extremism, and which also concludes that terrorist incidents are a result of discrimination against Muslims due to the media. These events and the media should not define the religion and influence people’s views and judgement on this religion.

Global Perspective

USA
The USA is a very cultural and diverse country, and with all these diversities in the country, it would be thought that the media there may be unbiased or even if it was bias the people wouldn’t be very affected due to the fact that there are a lot of ethnic people living in the USA. But this is not the case, minorities are subject to negative portrayals in the news media. Since September 2001 (the day of the Twin Tower incident), the negative portrayals of Muslims, Arabs and people from the middle east, in general, has increased. This negative exposure to Muslims has resulted in a lot of Americans supporting public policies that harm Muslims domestically and internationally.

The U.S. media depicts Muslims as a cultural threat to the Western world and its values. Since most Americans do not have direct contact with Muslims in their daily lives, the media seriously influences public attitudes about Islam. Stereotypes can also affect public policies. For example, President Trump’s revised travel ban required the government to log and publicize ‘acts of gender-based violence against women, including ‘honour killings,’ in the USA by all foreign nationals, even though ‘honour killings’ are unheard of in the country. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously worried that gender-based violence is into the “cultural background” of Muslim refugees. Such policies are characterizing Muslims.

The main problem with the media is the content within it. If there was a more balanced news coverage of Muslims in the United States, there would be a reduced number of negative attitudes and behaviours towards Muslims. This is important considering the fact that a large majority of Americans rely on media as their primary source of information about Muslims. A large majority of the media covers Western countries, while Muslim countries and Muslim media have been neglected. It is shown that there is a lack of research on visuals, online media and comparative research. Most media outlets tend to focus on and investigate migration, terrorism and war.

United Kingdom
Islam holds a great significance in the UK as it is the second largest religion in the country. However, as the result of terrorist accidents happening across the world, some people might, unfortunately, connect Muslims with terrorism. Around about a third of British adults perceive Islam as a violent religion that promotes violence in the UK.

“The way some British media depicts Islam and Muslims negatively is much worse than it was in 2011.” said former Tory co-chair and member of the House of Lords Sayeeda Warsi
“If you look at the history of the UK, many groups have been victimized in the past, such as homosexual people, black people, Jewish, and Irish people. And Islam can be another one of the victims. There have been individuals who have done some bad things in the name of Islam, but they cannot represent the whole group of Muslims. The overwhelming majority are actually looking to play a positive role in their community” says Ali Hammuda, the English Activities Coordinator of Al-Manar Centre Cardiff.
Recently, there has been a significant amount of bad news associated with Muslims. The bad news is more likely to hit the headlines and be covered in the press than the good news. This is because bad news appears to “sell better” in the media industry, unlike the positive actions that Muslims do. Muslims are constantly targeted by media outlets. 64 per cent of the British public received information about Islam and Muslims through the media, most not seeking any further information. It is important for newspapers to know what they are talking about due to the fact that negative Muslim coverage by the national print media encourages individual blog writers to do the same. Anti-Muslim attacks in the U.K. hit a high after deadly terror attacks in Manchester and London Bridge last year.

Japan
The Japanese have had very limited contacts with Islam throughout their history until recent days, compared to that with other foreign originated religions like Buddhism or Christianity. The media has heavily influenced the Japanese views on Islam, due to the fact that the country is still developing. And as a result of this little exposure which they have had, they then, turn to the western media for information about Islam, which is very biased. An average person probably hears the word ;Islam; mostly from the terrorism-related news and that’s the only connection in most people’s daily life with the word ;Islam;.
There are more than 100,000 Muslims living in Japan, which is still a small portion compared to the population of Japan (127 million). In 2010 over 100 Metropolitan police documents were leaked online. The leak revealed that the police had compiled detailed profiles on 72,000 Muslims, including personal information such as bank account statements, passport details and records of their movements. The leak also showed that police had at times planted cameras inside Mosques and used undercover agents to infiltrate Islamic nonprofit organizations and halal grocers and restaurants.
Some Muslims have said that they’ve known about them being followed for a long time, especially after terrorist attacks identical to the 2005 London bombing. The police would surround their houses for a few days. The leak had a deep impact on the Muslim community and has made its relationship with broader Japanese society bitter. After the 2010 leak, some of the Muslims named in the documents sued the government and police in a bid to have the widespread spying ruled illegal. In 2014, the Tokyo District Court agreed that the leak had violated the right to privacy and awarded them ¥90 million in compensation, but it also ruled that the intelligence-gathering was “necessary and inevitable.”
Local Perspective

The Netherlands
The Netherlands has been known for its values of inclusion, compromise and societal tolerance, but within recent decades racism and stereotyping has become more prominent in the news. Through the context of immigration, journalists, television programs and other various media outlets. Within the last decade, the media has managed to miss inform people about Islam and the Middle East. This is the power of “mass media”. The media has depicted Islam in a way in way that when people hear the word ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ images of terrorists and violence immediately come to mind.
Muslims are as free to practice their religion as anyone else, but there is an increasing tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. But as a result of the influence, that the media has, with it constantly depicting Islam in a negative light. Religious prejudice is on the rise in response to both the more recent influx of Muslim immigrants and growing fears of terrorism in Europe. Both are already manipulated by politicians, who promote the idea that there are now so many non-Christians in the Netherlands that Dutch traditions will be lost or obliterated.

Reflection
Personally, I think that the media has a very strong influence over people’s views, due to the fact that the media constantly associate Islam with the word ‘terrorist’ and ‘extremist’. The connection between Islam and terrorism that has been fuelled by media. This approach of terrorism and Islam should undergo research, to find out how this all influences society. Due to the fact tha
t this influence in which the media has on society is very strong and has created a mindset within people in order for them to link Islam with terrorism which is not true.

Solutions
The general tendency of the mass media is to focus on the unusual, sensational, and extreme. Due to the the heavy reliance in which people have on the media for their understanding of Islam and Muslims, they are unlikely to gain a view of the complete picture. The statements and actions of the minority of Muslims in the context of newsworthy people, places and events will dominate their understanding of Islam. More extreme Muslim voices tend to be presented and heard as representative of the Muslim community. This can be referred to as ‘mass media Islam’, as the image constructed is more consistent with the media version than the actual reality of the Islamic religion. The main problem with the media is the content within it. If there was a more balanced news coverage of Muslims there would be a reduced number of negative attitudes and behaviours towards Muslims.

Word count:1773

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