Updated: Apr 22

The word Islamophobia means “fear of Islam” especially as a political force. Whereas, Islamophobia in the media is the image that media portrays to cover Muslim or Islam in a negative way to spread hatred against Muslims and Islam. According to some researcher’s Islamophobia started, in the United States, in 1979 with Iranian Revolution due to growing political influence of Islam at that time. But, got its peak after 9/11 incident and repeatedly highlighted during Afghan war by western media. Now, the social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, is playing a major role in promoting Islamophobia across the whole world. Media, at various instances, have misled the society by portraying Muslims as terrorist, effecting the overall image of Islam.

This has led the thinking of a common man towards Islamophobia and hate speeches against Muslims. According to ''The Social Network of Hate: Inside Facebook’s Walls of Islamophobia'', a British academic reported that out of 100 different Facebook pages online, he found 494 posts and comments pointing hateful comments towards Muslims directly. Now, to combat against Islamophobia or other racism moments, there is a need to change the media mainstream from ‘war journalism’ to ‘peace journalism’. That supports the exploration of facts and background of the context rather than news itself along with direct attention to news related to policy makers, elites rather than minorities. It also aims to provide opportunities to masses to develop their own point of view in cases of conflicts by providing them with proper facts and figures.

The news clippings against 'Islam' in different newspapers (Tahir Abbas).

Media being a mind controlling and thought directing force for masses can play a potential role in combating against Islamophobia and other such racist moments all over the world. It can play its role in various ways. Through media, police and other related authorities can take an initiative to increase awareness within Muslim communities to report all Islamophobic incidents and other religiously based hate crimes instead of reacting on their own. Muslim organizations should form a collective platform through media to work together to collect, analyze and respond to Islamophobic incidents. There is also a need to globally change the media codes of conduct guidelines about Muslims and Islam to help reduce misinterpretations and stereotypes. Along with taking an initiative to monitor and respond to news of Islamophobia and publish its findings accordingly. There is also a need to educate and empower Muslim communities to put forward their position and media can play a vital role in it too. Unfortunately, our media present Muslim stories focusing only one dimension either an extremist or a victim hood in a stereotypical way. There Muslims need to uplift the stories of peace and brotherhood and voice of Muslim people on social media. Muslims must not repose the hate stories or Islamophobic incidents to argue against them as research shows that repeating negative stories can accidentally amplify them, instead they should post and encourage the work of communities that are resisting and working together to push back against Islamophobia and hate. Islamophobia has not remained limited to individual’s heart, but it has become a complex problem as it is now embedded in communities through policies of proliferating and surveillance. Media should give awareness to Muslims to take specific steps to communicate with elected officials to end surveillance and change polices towards them.

Most importantly, if someone writes something Islamophobic or racist on social media, don’t leave that unattended, as silence is a form of approval. Instead try to engage that person in some communication, ask questions to convince them and in case of further conflict report them properly on social media applications or websites being used. So, along with educating non-Muslims about the whole fake propaganda of Islamophobia against Muslims through media there is also a need to empower Muslims all over the world to strengthen their believes and portray an overall soft image of Islam and in this global village era this goal cannot be achieved without the potential role of Media.

(Published By on 21-August-2019)