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POST 9/11 ISLAMOPHOBIC MEDIA IN THE UNITED STATES

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Through its policies of racial profiling and racially targeted immigration enforcement, the state has adjudged all “Muslim-looking people” to be terrorists. (Ahma, 2017)


“A Rage Shared by L ,,w” I think it is because of the way we look and the way we dress.

- Yusor Abu-Salha.


Muslims have always been a source of dread and hatred for Americans. The English, who dominated the global slave trade in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, transported African slaves to the American colonies, but a large portion of that populace was ignorant that Muslims even existed within the colonies themselves. Early Americans mostly used the term "Mahometans," a derisive term for the Muslims of the period, in rhetoric. Muslims were frequently used as rhetorical test cases in many political discussions at the time, including whether or not there should be a religious requirement for presidential candidates, as they represented a repugnant outgroup. People with the Islamic faith were denied citizenship because of restrictions on that privilege to anyone who was not a white Christian under 18th-century immigration policy, making it one of the earliest examples of how ethnic discrimination was enshrined into American law. Islamophobic practices continued to be completely institutionalized throughout the following few centuries, targeting members of the faith and those of Arab origin in the fields of law enforcement, surveillance, and the legal system, even though they may have become less overt.



Islamophobia is the modern offspring of Orientalism, a worldview that views Islam as the civilizational opposite of the West and is based on the fundamental misconceptions and defamations of Islam and Muslims that Orientalist theory, narratives, and law have ingrained in American institutions and the public imagination.


Three forms of Islamophobia are at the core of this definition: private Islamophobia, structural Islamophobia, and dialectical Islamophobia, which refers to the ongoing conversation between the government and the general populace that connects the war on terror policies of Presidents George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump with the private Islamophobia unleashed by hateful individuals like Craig Hicks. A widespread perception of Islamophobia as an entirely aberrant and deviant form of private violence has been solidified by current political discourse and popular discourse. Muslim-targeting state policies and targeted killings are seen as being unrelated to the widespread private hatred in the United States today. This constrained lens weakens civic, political, and legal efforts to combat Islamophobia since they must consider the state's complex involvement in pushing anti-Muslim policies and encouraging domestic violence. Consequently, the state is portrayed in this definition of Islamophobia as a strong collaborator who shapes and occasionally motivates the actions of individual hatemongers, or Islamophobes, making it responsible for a variety of hate crimes and incidents targeting Muslims and Muslim institutions. It's critical to understand that Islamophobia does not only originate on the right. Contrary to stereotypes and simplistic media representations, supporters of Trump, evangelical ideologues, conservatives, and members of the far-right are not always Islamophobes.




The typical stereotypes of Islamophobia must be rejected to go beyond them. Democrats, liberals, libertarians, and progressives are also anti-Islamic. Additionally, it should be noted that Barack Obama, a Democrat who is widely regarded as the most progressive president in American history, embraced counter-radicalization policing and increased the surveillance state beyond that of the Bush administration on the presumption that a person's Muslim identity indicated a potential threat from terrorism. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee who lost to Trump, frequently characterized Muslims as "terror-hating" or "peace-loving," suggesting that the word "Muslim" alone would be too politically risky to use without some form of caveat, wrote Golashan and Tara (2016)


Fundamental to Islamophobia is the assumption of guilt placed on Muslims by both public and private actors. But, it must also be viewed as a procedure, one by which governmental policies legitimize common stereotypes. The aftermath of terrorist acts like the 9/11 attacks is when this continuing process is the most acute. The preponderance of the attention on Islamophobia is on dramatic accounts of personal Islamophobia. The popular press, social media, and even academic research are dominated by news reports about "intensifying calls for the expulsion of Syrian refugees, anti-Muslim protests organized and carried out by the fringe militants, as well as a rise in assaults against hijab-clad Muslim women that took place after Trump's the presidency victory.". The process by which institutional Islamophobia legitimizes and mobilizes individual hatred towards Muslims is obscured by this obsession with dramatic examples of private Islamophobia. Islamophobia and bigotry are influenced by political discourse, media portrayals, and most importantly formal laws, regulations, and programming. The war on terror's advancement and the fluid growth of structural Islamophobia convey to the general populace that Islam should be regarded with distrust. Also, it is simple for many people to feel that Islam is completely incompatible with American culture and that persons who identify as Muslims are not a part of the collective "US" or "us" under a president who openly declares, "I think Islam hates us."


Muslims were legally barred from becoming citizens of the United States for more than two centuries before a "Muslim ban" made headlines in the New York Times and resulted in the detention of thousands of Muslims at airports around the country. They were considered incompatible with American principles and society and a menace. From 1790 to 1944, the courts outlawed Muslim immigrants from obtaining citizenship, continuing the demonization of this entire group of immigrants. During this time, it was considered illegal for a person to be a Muslim while also being an American citizen.


The discourse and preconceptions that prevented Muslims from becoming citizens of the United States from 1790 until 1944 served as the basis for Trump's proposal for a Muslim ban, which he advanced through three executive orders. The modern portrayal of Muslim immigrants as fundamentally different and inadmissible, as potential terrorists, and, in the case of Syrian refugees fleeing war, as cloaked "ISIS terrorists" echoes the portrayal of Muslim immigrants as an enemy race during this period of American history known as the naturalization era.





The difficulties of Islamophobia, according to Dinet & Ibrahim (1925), were not developed to symbolize a lack of understanding and knowledge of Muslims and Islam, which was also attacked by false reports. The teachings and messages of Islam and other religious topics were purposely misrepresented by the media, portraying Muslims and Islam as radical terrorists and people with outdated customs and beliefs. The two professors did not deem it necessary to define Islamophobia, but their definition suggested that they saw it as an effort to "do away with Islam altogether." Lewis (2005) asserts that there is a propensity for a small number of powerful political agendas to dominate the international media and utilize it to further their financial interests. The real motivations for news and information changed after the First World War, and the media evolved into a profit-making industry with businessmen, a small group of people who hegemony the media, as their primary concentration to make a profit. This media footprint trend was established by Western countries.



What we know of societies depends on how things are represented to us and the sole verification of information is brought in by various news platforms. The concept of truth relies on newspapers to extract information in the right possible way and then there is yellow journalism. Rather than narrating it as radical, newspapers generalize their opinions. Islam is being portrayed as a negative religion through the media and it has incarnated in people’s minds. At the same time, governments play an important role in deciding the fate of religion through newspapers. It is important to know that journalism is associated with regime change in countries as each person has their perspective on certain issues and wants to consider/ spread their view towards an issue regardless of underlying consequences.


There is a disproportionate classification between “our” Muslims and “their” Muslims in the context of news outlets which contributes to the idea of Islamophobia. Muslims contribute to about a quarter of the world’s population and The U.S.A. has only about 1.2 million Muslims in its country. The anti-Muslim attitude among citizens has been seeing significant growth. While there are newspapers, outlets, and organizations that influence islamophobia through their reportage, there are newspapers like The Guardian and The New York Times that are trying to portray the reality and are cautious to report accurate news. The articles that are being written revolve around terrorism, fundamentalism, and so on, solely focusing on the Muslim majority of countries. Articles that do not mention the previously mentioned issues still find ways to be negative. They are substantially and undeniably negative. There are a set of adjectives that are used before and after the word “Muslim”. In a research by the Atlantis Press, it was discussed that American citizens appear to be suspicious of Islam and identify Islam as an awful religion. While it had been well established and functional that the Western people had been formulating since the first connection with Muslims and Arabs, the representation of Arabs and Muslims in the Western media is not now making fake news. Media in the West built all about the same stereotypes for Muslims and Arabs during the third decade of European daily amplification of Arabs, particularly during the Crusade War, at the bottom of the Middle Ages.


Edward Said (2000) points out the importance of the media in the West, which promotes and institutionalizes prejudice and hatred against Muslims and Islam. The name Islam as it is currently used appears to denote a single simple thing, but in reality, it refers to a segment of section narration, a section of the philosophical tag, and an episode of an insignificant nomination of faith and belief called Islam. The West's news media are currently very interested in portraying a distorted image. When news stories exaggerate the danger and menace of terrorists and their desires while denying to oppose them in all of their forms, it can lead to audiences glorifying extremists and terrorists while forgetting about their victims and cruelty. According to media news and information, some specific radical political agenda was permitted to present promotion and credibility due to specific government negligence. Despite this, the news media participated in creating a sense of insecurity regarding terrorist activities, which led to the creation of and feeling of insecurity. On April 7, 2010, American President Obama gave instructions to remove words related to religious hatred and racism, such as "Islamic extremism" and "jihad," from US national security confidential documents.


Particularly the US media is held responsible for unnecessarily sowing racism and hatred seeds, portraying and constructing an anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic image in the minds of Westerners. Islam has been portrayed as a religion that breeds violence, terrorism, and extremism, all of which are viewed as threats to the entire globe.


Persuasion of news values and sources of place where someone spends their lives, for instance, impact news articles and program development by placing the media spotlight on some minor piece of information and "elevating" them in salience. The production in this way frames recognition of problems, causes, and representatives and also impacts ethical judgment as a result of this mainstream thinking or characteristic. As stated by Entman, "the evidence of social science implies that very few in the audience will infer it is half empty" whenever a content frame has relevance "in several mutually reinforcing ways that the glass is half full." The spectator is assumed to infer that Muslims are extremists and terrorists as a result of the numerous news stories that represent Islam and Muslims negatively through words and images. In this context, the media has a large amount of power to portray the entire globe in undeniably precise ways. There are various opposing and distinctive ways to formulate the meaning that is tied to the world. It is crucial to consider who and what the media portrays, who and what are frequently ignored, and in what context people, things, events, and relationships are portrayed. It relies on what was seen about society, how individuals perceive things in the media, and what knowledge they take away from it. What people do and the kind of policies they create are both important.


Several experts have emphasized how media portrayal of news items has a significant impact on audiences and readers, even though many information sources give inaccurate images of Muslims and Islam in the eyes of Westerners. The media is seen as the primary and most important source of information, and whether the media presents accurate or distorted views of various communities, it has a significant impact on the audience because of the public's unquestioning faith in the media. In this perspective, the dehumanizing Western depiction of Muslims and the dissemination of anti-Muslim propaganda in western popular media are not current events. According to analyses of political and media-related issues, Muslims and Islam are portrayed in the media in a way that tends to reinforce prejudice and preconceptions, as well as cast an unfavorable light on both of them. It is clear that the media's depiction of Muslims and Islam in the West as "in conflict with the West and linked with terrorism/extremism or violence" is to blame for both the stereotypically abnormal and uninformed perception of Muslims and Islam in Western communities as well as the way that Muslims and Islam are portrayed as the "other" in those communities.


It is important to note that the perspectives of the United States of America can influence the views and perspectives of the world. The mentality of readers have changed with journalism as people have been trained to expect negative news about the religion. This approach towards Muslims has spurred a debate raising questions about America’s equation against Muslim countries.


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