Islamophobia In The Media Essay Ideas

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Islamophobia in the media refers to the occurrence or perception that media outlets tend to cover Muslims or Islam-related topics in a negative light. Islamophobia is defined as "Intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims".[1][2]

Historical context[edit]

Some researchers point to the Iranian Revolution in 1979 as a starting point for Islamophobia in the United States. It may be due to the growing influence of political Islam around the same period. In his book, The Modern Middle East, author Mehran Kamrava notes that the "rise in the popularity and spread of political Islam can be traced to the 1980s and even earlier, when a general trend in the politicization of Islam began sweeping across the Middle East following the Arab 'victory' in the 1973 War and the success of the Iranian revolution."[3] Others find Islamophobia present in the United States far earlier and argue that Americans were using the fear of Islam as a unifying concept in defining America. Some also believe that the phenomenon of Islamophobia is a psychological defense mechanism, which is spreading through mass media like a virus.[4] Regardless, negative media images of Muslims in the 1980s and 1990s were compounded by reporting on Islam and Muslims that relied on Samuel Huntington's 1993 idea of a "clash of civilizations"[5] for their framework; one that "the American media were all too ready to embrace after the fall of Communism in the late 1990s."[6]

Islamophobia in the media[edit]

According to Nathan Lean, editor-in-chief of Aslan Media and a researcher at Georgetown University, the media plays a major role in promoting Islamophobia across the world.[7] According to Elizabeth Poole in the Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnic Studies, the media has been criticized for perpetrating Islamophobia. She cites a case study examining a sample of articles in the British press from between 1994 and 2004, which concluded that Muslim viewpoints were underrepresented and that issues involving Muslims usually depicted them in a negative light. Such portrayals, according to Poole, include the depiction of Islam and Muslims as a threat to Western security and values.[8] Benn and Jawad write that hostility towards Islam and Muslims are "closely linked to media portrayals of Islam as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist."[9]

There have been various instances in the media about how the Muslim community are often misrepresented to society, mostly in a way that centers heavily on terrorism, and paints Islam with a very broad brush.[original research?] This is something that is seen in two major magazines, Newsweek and Time, which have been covering relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan over the last decade. Both of these publications distributed twenty leading articles that depicted about 57% of negative coverage in regards to current events in Afghanistan, while only around 6% was positive information.[citation needed] This negative content would often consist of excessive mentioning of Al-Qaida and the Taliban, mistreatment of women, the recruitment of terrorists, etc.[10] These are in fact very real occurrences that are present in this part of the world, but primarily focusing on activities of radical groups could lead others to develop a one sided view of Islam.[original research?]

British scholars Egorova and Tudor cite European researchers in suggesting that expressions used in the media such as "Islamic terrorism", "Islamic bombs" and "violent Islam" while not using the same terms relating to non-Muslims have resulted in a negative perception of Islam.[11]

There have also been examples in the film industry in which Muslims are often associated with terrorism, such as in the 1998 movie The Siege.[12] Some critics of this movie have stated that the manner in which Islam is portrayed in this film only furthers the stereotype that Muslims in are correlated with terrorism and savagery.[original research?]


In 2011, the Center for American Progress published Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.[13] The goal of the report was to expose the organizations, scholars, pundits and activists that comprised a network dedicated to the spread of misinformation and propaganda about American Muslims and Islam.[14]

The report found that seven charitable foundations spent $42.6 million between 2001 and 2009 to support the spread of anti-Muslim rhetoric. The efforts of a small cadre of funders and misinformation experts were amplified by an echo chamber of the religious right, conservative media, grassroots organizations, and politicians who sought to introduce a fringe perspective on American Muslims into the public discourse.[14]

A 2010 Gallup poll has even revealed that about 43% of Americans reported feeling some type of prejudice against Muslims, while the religious group itself makes up one of the smallest populations in the entire country.[15] This indicates that individuals have developed strong opinions about this group of people based on what has been heavily displayed by the media, which has often shown to be negative information.

Fox News[edit]

In 2014, Vox Media editor Max Fisher said that Fox News is only a small component of the Islamophobia on U.S media.[16]

Fox News has also had to retract false claims about Muslims.[17] In 2009, Dr Fred Vultee released an analysis[18] of Fox News which sought to explore the media outlet's practices through the prism of Edward Said's concept of Orientalism; the practices "create an ideological clearinghouse for a uniquely menacing image of Islam." This image is one of a rational, progressive West at constant and irreconcilable odds with an irrational, backward East. In his study, Vultee asserts, "The discourse Fox creates with its audience helps to set a foundation for polarized commentary and to legitimize support for a limitless war on the unknown." As part of his investigation, Vultee analyzed the contents of from 2007 to 2009. According to his research:

A visit any day to the website of the Fox News Channel is likely to offer yet another piece of a sinister puzzle: the looming threat of Islam to everything the West holds dear. There is an armed threat, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq and possibly as near as the shopping mall. But there is also a cultural danger that menaces all of Europe, that stalks coffee shops and classrooms, that endangers individual children and entire health-care systems with its irreducible demands, that hates Barbie and Valentine's Day and even the Three Little Pigs. And even as the West watches, they have overtaken us as the world's largest religion.[18]

Fox News does not necessarily create the pieces of this puzzle. Much of their content and coverage comes from the Associated Press or is attributed to one of the newspapers belonging to the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp—The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. "What Fox does is act as a collator—a clearinghouse of unrelated and often quite unremarkable developments that, taken together, create a clear ideological dialogue with its audience about how to relate to and interpret the Islamic world."[18]

In the February 2014 issue of the International Communication Gazette, Dr Christine Ogan and her colleagues published an article, "The rise of anti-Muslim prejudice: Media and Islamophobia in Europe and the United States."[6] In their analysis of various polling data, the researchers note:

Empirical evidence for such a possible interaction between media coverage and latent anti-Muslim feelings is mounting. One study that analyzed Fox News viewers' anti-Muslim feelings reported, for example, that 60% of Republicans who most trusted Fox News also believe that Muslims were attempting to establish Sharia law in the United States. And as we reported earlier, those trusting Fox News the most also tend to believe that Islamic values are incompatible with American values (68%). That percentage is lower for those who most trust CNN (37%) or public television/new [media] (37%).

The researchers further claimed that:

Since media coverage of Muslims and Islam is likely to shape the opinions of those who have limited or no contact with this religion and its people, it is important to analyze the potential associations these media portrayals might have with people's attitudes toward Islam in general and Muslims in particular.


A 2012 study indicates that Muslims across different European countries, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, experience the highest degree of Islamophobia in the media.[19]


In 2008, Peter Oborne of The Independent wrote that British tabloids such as The Sun tend to highlight crimes committed by Muslims in an undue and disproportionate manner.[20] In 2013, British Muslim historian Humayun Ansari said that politicians and the media are still fuelling Islamophobia.[21]

John E. Richardson's 2004 book (Mis)representing Islam: the racism and rhetoric of British broadsheet newspapers, criticized the British media for propagating negative stereotypes of Muslims and fueling anti-Muslim prejudice.[22] In another study conducted by John E. Richardson, he found that 85% of mainstream newspaper articles treated Muslims as a homogeneous mass who were imagined as a threat to British society.[23]

Social media[edit]

In the media, Islamophobia has been more and more spoken about over time.[original research?] Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been directly associated with these media references to Islamophobia.[citation needed] According to The Social Network of Hate: Inside Facebook's Walls of Islamophobia, by British academic Imran Awan, Awan himself had went through 100 different Facebook pages online to which he found 494 posts and comments that were directly appointing hateful words towards Muslim individuals. These posts and comments consisted of racial slurs and negative comments towards the Muslim religion.[24] With such a large community that exists on these social media websites, it is hard to not see hateful words spoken towards individual groups or people.[original research?]

In 2016 in Europe, Facebook had created a new code of conduct that specified to decrease the hateful speech being used on the website.[25] The head leader of public policy in Europe operating Twitter, Karen White, stated that "Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society. We remain committed to letting the tweets flow. However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate."[25] The most common comments and words that were found during the Facebook investigation were ones discriminating against the clothing of Muslims, and also directed to how people believe they should be deported.[citation needed] The President of the United States also has taken a standpoint in the views of Islamophobia in the media as well. It is alleged that President Trump could be implementing an identification system for Muslim individuals.[citation needed] A study that was conducted at Georgetown University showed that there has been an increase in violence against Muslim Americans throughout of the course of the Presidential election campaign.[citation needed] New York resident, Fariha Nizam, had experienced a series of incidents of public discrimination during her daily bus ride commute.[citation needed]

Lack of representation[edit]

Some have noted that few Muslims are represented in the media when discussing policies that affect Muslims directly. In 2017, journalists at Media Matters compiled a list of guests that were invited onto three US cable news shows (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC) in the week from January 30 to February 5 to discuss Trump's controversial Executive Order 13769, which would ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. They found that of the 176 guests that were invited to discuss the issue, less than 8% were Muslim.[26] In 2014, Palestinian activists noted a similar pattern with the underrepresentation of Palestinian guests on cable news during the 2014 Israeli–Gaza conflict.[27]

A December 2015 survey by City, University of London of journalists found an underrepresentation of Muslims in the field in the UK. Only 0.4% of British journalists identified as Muslim or Hindu, 31.6% were Christian, and 61.1% had "no religion."[28]

Disproportionate coverage[edit]

In 2009, Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman criticized Western media for over-reporting a few Islamist terrorist incidents but under-reporting the much larger number of planned non-Islamist terrorist attacks carried out by "non-Irish white folks".[29] A 2017 study by students at Georgia State University concluded that "controlling for target type, fatalities, and being arrested, attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 449% more coverage than other attacks."[30]

Media personalities[edit]

Some media personalities are associated with maintaining Islamophobic perspectives.

The obituary in The Guardian for the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci described her as "notorious for her Islamaphobia" [sic].[31]


After the events of September 11, coordinated by the Islamic terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, the media's interest in Islam and the Muslim community has been significant but considered deeply problematic by some. Within minutes of planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York, "Muslim" and "terrorism" had become inseparable. Many scholars felt that the events of September 11 brought to the fore a marked tone of hysteria, frenzied and ill-informed reporting and a general decline in journalistic standards as far as discussions about Islam and Muslim were concerned.[32]

The fear of Muslims has become more intensified ever since the bombing of 911 in New York City. The media portrays Islams as a race of people directly associated with violence. In public discussions and in the media, Muslims are mostly portrayed as a monolithic bloc, a closed and united group of people who are totally different from or even intimidating and hostile to a likewise closed "West" which is Christian, secular, liberal, and democratic. The description of the Muslims and Western worlds as two contrasting, and contradictory poles leads to a dualistic understanding of relations, disregarding many fine distinctions and exceptions. The so called risk of Arabs has been hyped throughout by the media channels to an extent that now westerners see Muslims only in the context of somebody who is an adversary of the democratic world order and modernization.[32]

Arabophobia stats[edit]

When Muslims and Islam are discussed on News Networks, it is often regarding the "War on Terror".[33]

Depiction of Arabs on U.S. News channels
IssuesFox NewsSpecial ReportLarry King LiveLate EditionTotal
Art & Culture00000
Crisis (Socio-eco)4193430
Human Rights01001
International Relations01001
War on Terror1310141350


Some media outlets are working explicitly against Islamophobia, and sometimes, the government is accused of conspiring.[34] In 2008, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ("FAIR") published a study "Smearcasting, How Islamophobes Spread Bigotry, Fear and Misinformation." The report cites several instances where mainstream or close to mainstream journalists, authors, and academics have made analyses that essentialize negative traits as an inherent part of Muslims' moral makeup.[35] FAIR also established the "Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism", designed to monitor coverage in the media and establish dialogue with media organizations. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Islamic Society of Britain's "Islam Awareness Week" and the "Best of British Islam Festival" were introduced to improve community relations and raise awareness about Islam.[36] In 2012, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation stated that they will launch a TV channel to counter Islamophobia.[37]


Two days after completing his short book: Lettre aux escrocs de l'islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes (Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists), Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, editor of Charlie Hebdo, was dead. Charb and 11 others were murdered on January 7, 2015 by Chérif and Said Kouachi in their attack on the Parisian office of the satirical magazine.

During his time as editor, Charlie Hebdo aimed its satire at Catholicism, Judaism and radical Islam in equal measure. In his final, posthumous missive, Charb rejects all accusations that he ran a "racist" or "Islamophobic" magazine. "He argues—from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint—that the word "Islamophobia" is a trap, set by an unholy alliance of Muslim radicals and the unthinking, liberal Western media. The real issue, he says, is racism and Charlie Hebdo was never racist..."[38]

Really, the word "Islamophobia" is badly chosen if it's supposed to described the hatred which some lame-brains have for Muslims. And it is not only badly chosen, it is dangerous. From a purely etymological viewpoint, Islamophobia ought to mean "fear of Islam"—yet the inventors, promoters and users of this word deploy it to denounce hatred of Muslims. But isn't it odd that "Muslimophobia," or just "racism," isn't used instead of "Islamophobia."
Racist language—which pressure groups, politicians and intellectuals had managed to corral in the space between the mouth of the xenophobe and his kitchen door—has escaped into the street. It flows through the media and sullies the networks of social media.
So, yes, we are in the middle of an explosion of racist behavior—yet the word "racism" is used only timidly, and is on the way to being supplanted by "Islamophobia." And the campaigners for multiculturalism, who try to foist the notion of "Islamophobia" on the judicial and political authorities, have only one aim in mind: to force the victims of racism into identifying themselves as Muslims.
The fact that racists are also Islamophobic is, I'm afraid, irrelevant. They are, first and foremost, racists. By attacking Islam, they are targeting foreigners or people of foreign origin. But by focusing only on their Islamophobia, we are minimizing the danger of racism. The anti-racist campaigners of old are in danger of becoming overspecialized niche retailers in a minority form of discrimination.
However, why do the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, who know that their drawings will be exploited by the media, by the retailers of anti-Islamophobia, by far-right Muslims and nationalists, insist on drawing Mohamed and other "sacred" symbols of Islam? Simply because the Charlie Hebdo drawings do not have the vast majority of Muslims as their target. We believe that Muslims are capable of recognising a tongue-in-cheek.[39]

See also[edit]


An American protester self-identifying as Islamophobic.
Charb on November 2, 2011
  1. ^"Oxford English Dictionary: Islamophobia". Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  2. ^See also:
  3. ^Kamrava, Mehran (2013). The Modern Middle East (Third ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-520-27781-6. 
  4. ^Beuhler, Arthur F. (2011). "ISLAMOPHOBIA: A PROJECTION OF THE WEST'S 'DARK SIDE'". 2.4: 639–653, 765–766 – via ProQuest. 
  5. ^Huntington, Samuel P.; Huntington, Samuel P. (1 June 1993). "The Clash of Civilizations?" – via 
  6. ^ abOgan, Christine (February 2014). "The rise of anti-Muslim prejudice: Media and Islamophobia in Europe and the United States". International Communication Gazette. 76 (1): 27–43. doi:10.1177/1748048513504048. 
  7. ^"Media blamed for promoting Islamophobia". 
  8. ^Poole, E. (2003) p. 217
  9. ^Benn; Jawad (2004) p. 165
  10. ^Shabir, Ghulam; Ali, Shahzad; Iqbal, Zafar (2011). "US Mass Media and Image of Afghanistan: Portrayal of Afghanistan by Newsweek and Time". South Asian Studies. 26.1: 83–101 – via ProQuest. 
  11. ^See Egorova; Tudor (2003) pp. 2–3, which cites the conclusions of Marquina and Rebolledo in: "A. Marquina, V. G. Rebolledo, 'The Dialogue between the European Union and the Islamic World' in Interreligious Dialogues: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Annals of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, v. 24, no. 10, Austria, 2000, pp. 166–8. "
  12. ^Wilkins, Karin; Downing, John (2002). "Mediating terrorism: Text and protest in interpretations of The Siege". Critical Studies in Media Communication. 19.4: 419–437 – via ProQuest. 
  13. ^"Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America".
  14. ^ abDuss, Matthew (February 2015). "Fear, Inc. 2.0 – The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America"(PDF). Center for American Progress: 1–87. 
  15. ^Bowe, Brian; Fahmy, Shahira; Matthes, Jorg (2015). "U.S. Newspapers Provide Nuanced Picture of Islam". Newspaper Research Journal. 36.1: 42–57 – via ProQuest. 
  16. ^"It's not just Fox News: Islamophobia on cable news is out of control". Vox. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ abcVultee, Fred (October 2009). "JUMP BACK JACK, MOHAMMED'S HERE". Journalism Studies. 10 (5): 623–638. doi:10.1080/14616700902797333. 
  19. ^Kunst; Sam; Ulleberg (2013). "Perceived islamophobia: Scale development and validation". International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 37 (2): 225–237. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2012.11.001. 
  20. ^"The shameful Islamophobia at the heart of Britain's press". The Independent. 
  21. ^Humayun Ansari. "Islamophobia rises in British society". 
  22. ^Richardson, John E. (2004). (Mis)representing Islam: the racism and rhetoric of British broadsheet newspapers. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 90-272-2699-7. 
  23. ^Richardson, J. E. (2009). "'Get Shot of the Lot of Them': Election Reporting of Muslims in British Newspapers". Patterns of Prejudice. 43 (3–4): 355–377. doi:10.1080/00313220903109276. 
  24. ^"The social network of hate: Inside Facebook's walls of Islamophobia". 
  25. ^ ab"European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - European Commission and IT Companies announce Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech". 
  26. ^Mast, Nina; Alderman, Julie (9 February 2017). "When Discussing Trump's Muslim Ban, Cable News Excluded Muslims". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  27. ^Sabawi, Samah (21 August 2014). "Why are Palestinian voices excluded?". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  28. ^"UK: Poor reporting, media illiteracy fuel Islamophobia". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  29. ^Mehdi Hasan (9 July 2009). "Know your enemy". New Statesman. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  30. ^Kearns, Erin M.; Betus, Allison; Lemieux, Anthony (5 March 2017). "Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?". SSRN 2928138. 
  31. ^Obituary of Oriana Fallaci – The Guardian, 16 September 2006. "Controversial Italian journalist famed for her interviews and war reports but notorious for her Islamaphobia"
  32. ^ abAhmad, Fauzia (August 2006). "British Muslim Perceptions and Opinions on News Coverage of September 11". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 32 (6): 961–982. doi:10.1080/13691830600761479. 
  33. ^Pervez, Sadia (July 2010). "Portrayal of Arabs and Islam in the talk shows of CNN & Fox News". Journal of Media Studies. 25 (2): 122–140. 
  34. ^German, Lindsey (Feb 11, 2015). "'Blame the Muslims': Islamophobia is fuelled by government and media". Middle East Eye. 
  35. ^Steve Rendall and Isabel Macdonald, Making Islamophobia Mainstream; How Muslim-bashers broadcast their bigotry, summary of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting report, at its website, November/December 2008.
  36. ^Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnic studies, p. 218
  37. ^"OIC will launch channel to counter Islamophobia". Arab News. April 19, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  38. ^"Charlie Hebdo editor's final book: 'Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists'". Independent Digital News and Media Ltd. The Independent (London). April 22, 2015. 
  39. ^Charb; Translated by John Lichfield (April 16, 2015). Lettre aux escrocs de l'islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes (Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists) (First ed.). France: French and European Publications Inc. pp. 1–96. ISBN 978-2357660861. 

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