Islamophobia in the Media

Modified: 2nd Oct 2017
Wordcount: 2224 words
Media Student

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The media is a means of communication which is usually made through television, radio, newspapers and other outlets that influence a wide amount of people. Moreover, the media causes moral panics of crime and fear of crime, this including the media’s role in the social construction of crime and media amplification of crime. The relationship between crime and the media has been debated historically particularly in relation to public fears about the harmful effects of the media.

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It is common observation that crisis such as wars, share markets, scandals often drive the public policy making process. Crisis reveals the problems and public consensus emerges that policymakers must do something about it. These crisis reveal broadcasters important role in community crisis information Saider 2006:1) choosing negative names for people or groups that powerful policymakers dislikes using positive names for describing wildly acts are part of media tricks.

Numerous media campaigns are going on against Islam and Muslims. Multiple channels trying to show a rough picture of Islam to their public. At the same time muslims groups through various media are trying to convey their messages but in comparison to the global dominance of the western media their effects are somehow in vain.

The media has responsibility of reporting fair and unbiased news stories. However, media are now blamed for overlooking the ethical issues when it comes to Islam. Although Islam is the fastest growing religion in the west, the west has many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that are due to the media, prejudice and ignorance. Islam is often looked upon the extremist terrorist fundamental religion. In contrast to what many westerners think of Islam is a peaceful religion, which does not promote any forms of uncalled violence or terrorist actions.

A major factor which contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the west due to the media’s selection of their words that describe Muslims. Some common name heard or seen in the news about Muslims are extremist or terrorist. These words are misleading any mainly are anti-Islamic. The media rarely use more words such as revivalist or progressive.

Media reports about Muslims and Islam negatively. A great misconception that exists the truth about Jihad which means “the struggle in the path of God”. However, the media abuses the meaning of Jihad by referring to it as a war in which Muslims unreasonably kill non-believers. But the fact is that Jihad can mean a numbers of things that a Muslims does for the sake of God. The media used this kind of a definition in their reports. The media often takes the word Jihad out of context to propagate negative views on Muslims.

Media using the most relevant example of the 9/11 event was to capitalise its political gain. The media depicts Islam as fundamentalism, extremist and radicalised religion. In a world were the role of the media is control; the image of reality can be manipulated by the author. The media tried to represent Muslims as terrorists posing a threat to security of countries. The way the media writes about Muslims being terrorists and the way they portray them on TV, documentaries and many others it raises many questions for policy-makers and for general public like, what the cause of global terrorism is, whether all the Muslims are terrorists including children, women and why all Muslim people hate British people and many others. These types of questions create public panic around the Muslim communities and terrorist threats. However, a research by Whitaker (2002) suggested that Muslims are intolerant, violent and cruel. It also suggested that Muslims are reported mainly when they cause a trouble though negative stories that often come from other countries. They obviously have some effect on reader’s perceptions of Muslims in Britain. By doing so they try to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to the emergence of Islamophobia. However, little effort has been made to respond to their negative campaigns. On the contrary the act of terrorist groups who kill people especially western hostages help their media to show that they are collectively victims of terrorism.

The media’s poor representations of Islam are due to poor language translations, the absence of developed news agencies which interactional networks and native reporters and biased reporting by reporters. The public is often misinformed about the Muslims through the images on television, radio, comic stories in newspapers which promote strong message to the public. Reporters often say Muslims are terrorist. This becomes the common image to the general persons that all the Muslims are terrorists (Edwards Saids book, covering Islam 1997).

The representation of muslims in the media relate to the lack of acceptances of differences. Media creates moral panics around terrorist threat. As one scholar said the war on terrorism is a war of images and the most effective images are those of terrorists victims. But other side we see discrimination associated with Islamophobia. This represents that the muslims are threat to security. Negative coverage of muslims has led to the production of anti-Islamic films like “Fitna” by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. After 9/11 attacks most experts has talked about security issues but everyone sees to forget the other causes of attacks such as social and political. In Iraq war economic, social and political causes were forgotten. The representations on muslims in the media has to change. To improve the image of Islam and muslims it requires a strong effort from muslim communities. These efforts should include a comprehensive process of reforms. Muslims will never be able to improve their image in the world if they fail to appear as a nation of culture and civilisation. Some other alternatives should be undertaken to educate other people about Islam, peace and tolerance and to clarify the incorrect views of Islam held by some people.

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Dr. Mona Amer, a psychologist conducted a research about the mental health of Muslims and Arab Americans in 2006, it shows us that after 9/11 attacks many Muslims and Arabs suffer from anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the majority of participants in the study reported feeling safe to extremely safe to pre 9/11, more than 82% reported feeling unsafe post 9/11. Dr Amer noted that feeling unsafe is a predictor of post traumatic stress disorder. However this study ended up as a target of hate and discrimination after Dr. Amer research was reported in USA Today. Dr. Amer received death threats from strangers this also was mentioned in an article “Muslims in America, post 9/11”, by Rebecca Clay whose research shows that the negative attitude towards Muslims has not decreased. Muslims receive constant negative messages through media about their religion and culture. Clearly it shows that Muslims often treated really badly even though its been 13 years of 9/11 attacks.

On the other hand, sometimes the media seems to be biased against Muslim communities. When the media distorts the image of Islam and Muslims, the general public tend to believe it because the media is a major source of information that the public gets about Islam and Muslims. Whereas, it can be argued that Muslims in Britain and across the western sphere, have voiced their worries about the way Islam is portrayed in the media. Aside from the action in accuracies and negativity prevented in media discourse they feel that people and their perceptions of faith and beliefs are adversely affected by such representation. Ahmed, (1992) conducted a study which highlighted that the way some people see Islam and Muslims through media is one of the factors potentially contributing to social discrimination and disadvantage amongst Muslim minorities.

A report by the Guardian suggested that Muslim people in western media is typically stereotypical and negative. The report also suggested that the way the media talks and writes about Muslims would not be acceptable if the reference were to other minorities such as Jewish, Black and others. These studies showed that media shapes public opinion and covers reality by their censorship. It also demonstrated that TV, News, documentaries have the strongest influence on people’s views of Islam. Based on these arguments it could be argued that the way media covers terrorist attacks, the way portray the image of a Muslim who has been arrested or seen as suspected or general newspaper articles might have interpreted wrongly so it can increase the tension within Muslims and non-Muslims. Effect of these types of media Britain might feel threatened as they can believe that all the terrorist incidents happened they are all planned and conducted by Muslim people, in future they can plan other attacks on Britain to take revenge. Thus creating create moral panics as they misinformed the public which then result in Muslim communities being seen as terrorists and a threat to the UK. However, these reports could raise an awareness for general public to not to believe every news has been reported as the editor or author of that news coverage might have interpreted differently to exactly what happened to sell the copies of their newspapers, raise awareness of TV channels in order to make money.

An internet survey of 1,360 people was carried out by global market insight, Muslims voice UK Queen’s University of Liverpool UK Muslims blame Islamphobia on the portrayal of their religion in media. Survey revealed that 40% Muslims blamed ant6i-Islamic feelings on Media, 74% non-Muslims blamed on 9/11 attacks. Non-Muslims are concerned about extremism, the lack of integration Muslims not being proud to be British and the lack oft tolerance by Muslims. However, the biggest threat to good Muslims and non-slip community is the misinformation on Islam in the media.

The one of the most surprising media stories to come out after the years of 9/11 attack was “international Burn a Quran Day”, which was organised by Pastor Terry Joneson in Florida. This event on social media sites such as Facebook, twitter received thousands of likes and was covered greatly across the United States with Pastor was involved onto on CNN for an interview. However, muslims were rarely offered air time to express their opinions on the matters of how majority of the society is evidently anti-muslim. On the other hands, an news article by Akbar Ahmed (Burn Quran Day, an outrage to muslims, August, 20, 2010) suggests that burning a Quran has caused alarm in the muslim world and burning will have symbolic significance to the muslim world already feeling under attack by US. It also suggest that Gen.David Petraeus, the head of American forces in Afghanistan, has repeatedly expressed the need for winning the hearts of local people by treating them with dignity and respect. So when muslims will see their holy Quran book being burned it will create riots and that will put US troops at further risk. There will be similar riots in Pakistan and Iran. It will inflame the entire Muslim world and fuel the acts of terrorism. Therefore, it can be argued that media only fuelled the hatred that Americans felt towards all muslims which then leads them to burn the Holy Quran book. Only small number of people was responsible for 9/11 so we cant blame on all muslims but due to media representations all muslims gets the blame for 9/11.

An article in magazine (muslims life in united states , post 9/11 portrayal and representation, 8/12,2014) shows us that 9/11 attacks was not start of negative portrayals on Muslims in West. A paper published in 2010 by a sociology professor Nurrullah of Alberta University analyses the Hollywood series “24”. the analyses suggest that show portrays stereotypical images of muslims which led to increase in discrimination towards muslims. This paper also suggest that tensions between the West and Muslims are not new its phenomenon. Islam and Muslims are historically look down upon the west. The negative portrays of muslims in the media it began after the second world war with the development of technology. There is no doubt that negative media influence by the West after 9/11attacks were portrayed worldwide muslims and Islam in an even darker picture but 9/11 aside, the negative portrayal of muslims were already set in stone with some westerners.

To conclude, in the media Muslims are often portrayed through stereotypical representations and discourses in which they have no voice. Basically the media is the main reason of enlarging the gap between west and east. It keeps on pressing on the west and filling their minds with pictures, movies, news against Muslims which aren’t true. Since 9/11 attacks media keep portraying Muslim in negative way such as terrorists and killer who attack innocent people without any reason and posing a threat to the security of countries. This creating a moral panic as they misinform the public by reporting that Muslims are intolerant, violent and cruel which then result in Muslim communities being seen as terrorists and a threat to the UK.


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