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Terror is Foreign Western Media's portrayal of Islam - Essay Example

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‘Terror is Foreign’ Western Media's portrayal of Islam.
A major complain from the Muslims all over the world is Western media’s falsification, over-generalization, distortion and sensationalization of stories that touch on Islam (Asadulla 195)…
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Download file to see previous pages A major complain from the Muslims all over the world is Western media’s falsification, over-generalization, distortion and sensationalization of stories that touch on Islam (Asadulla 195). The main problem is brought about by ignorance or carelessness, prejudice, or because the Western media does not have the ability to separate myth from reality, or probably because they do not understand the social, religious and political dynamics of the Muslim societies (Hafez 19). In his speech in Cairo University in 2009, President Obama spoke favorably of Islam saying that Islam has always been a part of America’s history. He even added that Arab-Americans had fought in American wars, served in the government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at American universities, had excelled in their sports arenas, won Nobel prizes, built their tallest buildings and lit the Olympic torch (FAIR 1). This undeniable facts articulated by the U.S President should be what the Western media focus on, but unfortunately their portrayal of a whole lot of 1.5 billion Muslims is nothing but sickening. This paper intends to shed light on the gross misrepresentations of Arabs and Muslims in the Western media by exposing these biased stereotypical misrepresentations. It will be found that the Western media propagate an inaccurate and unfair image of the collective Arabs and Muslims due to their lack of ethical principles of truth, fairness, objectivity and balance. In addition, this paper will explain why this phenomenon continues and see just in passing what can be its solutions. To begin with, negative stereotyping is the putting of unpleasant labels and characteristics on a group of people based on unfounded allegations while forgetting to account for their individual differences. This is where the Western media is particularly in error. There is a strong inclination in Western mass media to categorize Islam as a fanatic, and violent religion characterized by the chopping off limbs, violation of the rights of women, and representing a strong opposition towards cherished Western ideas and values of freedom, human rights and democracy (Poole 17). Poole observes that there is equation of Islam with politics and association of Islamic politics with extremism and this extremism with terrorism. This linkage results in the interpretation of political violence without taking into consideration its social and political context (23). Following the September 11 attacks, Arabs and Muslims were repeatedly misrepresented in the Western media on an unprecedented scale. It is important to note that the attacks were not the genesis of this phenomenon. As Jack Shaheen has prolifically researched and written, it dates back to the first years of the twentieth century and has progressed with growing intensity (174). Shaheen provides vivid examples of television programs dating back to the 1970s that casts Arabs and Muslims generally in bad light. He lists Hollywood movies and productions such as Dennis the Menace and Charlie’s Angels among others that completely vilify Arabs and Muslims as terrorists. In his seminal work on the image of Arabs and Muslims on Hollywood productions, Shaheen took the task of analyzing approximately 1000 movies with Arab characters which results he published. The conclusions were baffling. Only a dozen displayed positive portrayals, a handful displayed balanced portrayal while the rest presented negative portrayals. In essence, Arab in television stands for hijacking, terrorism, bombings or war. Such ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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