Islamophobia as Irrational Fear of Islam Essay Sample
The wake of terrorist activities across the globe has made most world leaders and populations associate Islamic religion with extremism and terrorism. Coincidentally, some of the terrorism perpetrators have been associated with Muslims due to the claims that Islamic religion is related to certain religious indoctrinations that border extreme behaviors. This has promoted Islamophobia, the irrational fear of Islam (Allen 87). Islam has therefore been presented by blindfolded media as a religion of backwardness and terror. This paper delves into this discourse by arguing that Islam is similar to other existing world religions and as such should not be associated with backwardness and terrorism. The image of Islam as a religion founded on principles and teachings of terrorism that has been advanced by certain minorities is based on shallow understanding of true meaning of the doctrine of Islam.
The media have advanced the vilification resolve of Islam and portrayed it as an overwhelming trend of negative, stereotypical, and inaccurate reporting. Although not entirely, most media institutions, for example in Britain, have adopted a trend of negative coverage of Islam as a religion associated with backwardness and gross violation of human rights through terrorism and other extremities (Lumbard 114). The reason why the islamophobic hymns dominate mainstream media circles is partly due to the existence of biased journalistic opinions in the mainstream and populist press (Lumbard 67). This has helped to generate stereotypical news that are presented in the print and broadcasting media as the big stories of the day.
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Biased focus on the Islamic religion has raised the cues of the global population that it is a religion founded on violence and gross violation of human rights. Before and after 9/11, the media have succeeded in associating the Muslim world with extremism and terrorism. In Britain, a study found that 88% of news articles on Islam packaged it as a religion for foreigners associated with fundamentalism and extremism (Lumbard 67). Anti-Muslim sentiments have, therefore, contributed to rooting Islamophobia in the past and current generation. Televised newscasts that are lodged by investigative journalists have all depicted Islam as a religion related to violent revolutions and having less consideration of human rights. As this hatred spread through the electronic and print media, the movies and social media platforms have reinforced this stereotype through their stories and shows when, in the real sense, this is not the true doctrine of Islam.
The media are interested in creating big stories about Muslims and terrorism so as to make money by promoting certain values, political and religious perspectives which are not necessarily true. Their depiction and branding of Islam is violent and promotes islamophobic attitudes and behaviors. In the real sense, Islam prohibits all kinds of violence and aggression regardless of one’s faith or racial background (Lumbard 67). Terrorism and violence are acts of injustice which are not part of the religious principles of Islam. Islam is a religion that deeply incorporates the principles of justice. Islamic religion discourages transgression instead advocating for peace and justice. These teachings are not covered by the media analysts in their presentation of the Islamic religion and its practice. This is what helps in churning out irrational Islamophobia.
Although the media and some sections of the Western government have shown the Islamic religion in bad light as one that is backward and full of perpetrators, terrorism and violence, the cases that are cited include the minority groups that are out to manipulate people and governments for their political and religion interests (Morgan and Poynting 112). Islam is not founded on violence, terrorism and extreme violation of human rights. There are key personalities that have made tremendous contributions to promoting peace in the world yet being adamant Muslims. A good example is Muhammad Ali who was a Hollywood star and whose actions in Hollywood have been directed towards peace and stability. Although he was a faithful Muslim and staunch follower of Islamic religion and its doctrines, he advocated for peace, respect for civil rights and always maintained his stance of a Muslim, an American Muslim for that matter.
After the 9/11 event, Ali expressed his deep sadness and anguish at the loss of numerous lives caused by the terrorists’ acts. He stressed the fact that Islam is a religion of peace and not one that promotes terrorism; neither, does it believe in killing of people. Muhammad Ali insists that Islam is not a religion of violence disproving the generalizations that it is associated with terrorism. This is a religious stereotype advanced by the minority that is out to erode the true essence of Islamic religion (Muir and Robin 48). Being a staunch and disciplined follower of Islam, Muhammad’s campaigns for peace were recognized even by the political leaders of his time who, in turn, implored other Muslims to emulate him and his campaign against terrorism and violence in order to brand Islam as a religion for all and not one founded on terrorism.
Muslims are not extremists but moderate and nonviolent people who try to honor God with their lives. Islam is a religion of peace, and the perceptions that it is violent is a result of sensationalized views of the media about a small number of violent extremists who claim to be Muslims. Among the reason why Islam is dreaded is their gross violation of human rights (Muir and Robin 48). This is linked to the cases of terrorism when the attack on civilians often involves fatal attacks even on women and children. This notion has created the fear of Islam while in reality true Islam actually prohibits killing of women, children, the elderly people, and religious leaders. Muslims have often advocated for justice even for prisoners since the Islamic religion actually advocates for observance and protection of the basic human rights for all humans irrespective of one’s crime.
The promotion of Islamophobic attitudes by the media and other agencies that are against Muslims has not recognized and appreciated the fact that Muslim leaders have come out to condemn incidents when terror groups claiming to be allied to Islam carry out terrorism acts (Gottschalk and Gabriel 59). These acts instill fear among non-Muslims. In the United States, American Muslims through the American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC) have always condemned acts of extremism that are targeted against innocent civilians (Muir and Robin 48). The Muslim leaders and the Muslim Americans have always reacted angrily to the acts of terrorism that involve mass destruction of property and loss of lives. Irrational fear of Muslims is thus not justified since even Muslims themselves have always called the world’s political leaders to speed up and act swiftly in apprehending perpetrators of terrorism and violence.
One of the opponents of terrorism is Dr. Agha Saeed, who is the national chair of the American Muslim Alliance. While he strongly condemned the 9/11, he also stressed the fact that the Muslims were concerned with the welfare of the victims and offered them support through the acts of compassion and mercy (Lumbard 122). This illustrates the fact that Muslims are peace-loving people that are willing to go an extra step to support the victims of violence perpetrated by people who claim to be Muslims. The Council of Muslims could not have participated in acts of compassion and humanitarianism such as donation of blood, food, shelter and financial support to the victims of acts of extremism if they were not true champions of justice and peace (Muir and Robin 48). It is thus the projection of world political leaders, radicalized Muslims, and the media that make Islam look dreadful and thus promote Islamophobia.
After such fear-evoking acts that make people exclude and label Muslims as terrorists and a threat to humanity, the Council of Muslims has always encouraged its members to visit hospitals and provide psychosocial, medical, financial, and relevant humanitarian support to victims of terrorism (Lumbard 188). Although these acts of compassion are not so much hyped by the media and state fraternities as the acts of terrorism that are claimed to be linked to Islam, these compassionate responses from Muslims point the fact that Islamophobia is, like other forms of phobia, irrational. It is a fact that the most positive contributions of Muslims to a peaceful world are not appreciated or just not projected to be heard by the world contrary to the isolated cases of Muslim-related negative acts (Sheehi 89). This portrays the Islamic religion negatively and drives into the minds of the non-Muslims the perceptions that Islam is about violence and violation of human rights through acts of extremism such as terrorism. This way, the anti-Islamic crusaders have somehow succeeded in pushing Islamophobic attitude a notch higher.
The negative depiction of Islam that has promoted Islamophobia is a consequence of biased media coverage of Islam. There are various positive aspects of Islamic religion that should be admired and even borrowed. For example, Muslims collect alms worth 2.5% of their income to support the needy in the society. This is often distributed to every person that is needy irrespective of one’s religion (Sheehi 176). It is therefore impossible that these acts of kindness are immediately followed by brutal attacks on the same people that they claim to support. When Muslims fast their food, they take time off from their luxurious living and share the little they have with the needy. This is meant to promote the well-being of humanity and enhance the welfare of the less fortunate.
The reason why Muslims have been associated with terrorism, extremism, and destruction of property and life that follow such violent acts is because the media have focused on covering such acts in a biased way (Shyrock 89). Muslims even run humanitarian organizations such as the Islamic World Relief that provides services to vulnerable populations during the times of humanitarian crises. Whereas a clique of Islamic extremists that claim to perpetrate acts of violence are the focus of the world leaders and the media fraternity condemning Islamic religion, the positive attitudes have largely been given blackout (Taras 37). In some cases, such acts have been easily dismissed as stage-managed schemes that are meant to hoodwink and make the general public believe that Islam is violent. These acts have served to promote Islamophobia.
In conclusion, Islamophobia has been pronounced and spread by the media and other opinion shapers that have considered the few individuals claiming to be Muslims engaging in vicious acts or acting on behalf of Muslims. Whereas the media and opinion leaders have projected Islamic religion negatively and facilitated the spread of Islamophobic attitudes and behavioral tendencies, the objective position is that these fears are unfounded since Islam is about peace, justice, and love for humanity. Muslims have immensely contributed to humanitarianism, welfare, and compassion and aggressively advocated for peace while strongly condemning acts of terrorism that make people fear Muslims and their religion.