Avoiding the media stereotypes of Islam

By Hadia Elahi

One of the most prominent roles of the media is representation.

In particular, the action of speaking on behalf of a certain section of society, portraying them in a specific way.

In light of recent reports, it is evident that an abundance of the media seems to depict the religion of Islam negatively.

This has the potential to construct an image of Islam that reflects terrorism, extremism and antipathy to opposing religions and individuals.

When I hear some sections of the media using phrases such as "the Arab world" and "the Muslim world", my mind flashes to those terrible science-fiction space television shows screeching some ominous music and a title that screams across the screen in eerie lime green text The Muslim World.

These phrases serve as a simple ploy to create generalisations about all Muslim majority countries, simplifying the otherwise obvious complexities and diversities that exist, for the sake of their own Orientalist imaginations and stereotypes.

This allows the media to imply that all Muslims possess beliefs that are completely foreign to this planet.

This shows their rejection of everything outside of the western world.

This is only to be reinforced by our politicians who talk about Muslim immigration in a way that equates to an alien invasion.

This sheer tendency of the media to simplify and sensationalise, rather than discussing complexities, enables the possibility of making such simplistic claims that render Muslims as ultimately being inferior, culturally backward or whatever other propaganda they want to throw in the mix.

This is not only detrimental to the integration of Muslims into society but also to the wider growth of a society that ultimately wants to progress away from such primitive thought processes.

Moreover, it is the creation of the term Islamophobia that relays such concerted efforts to disseminate this negative image to society.

When I hear this word, the irrational element of the suffix of phobia serves as an ultimate summation of what I think about the word and the media's overall presentation of Islam.