Media Distort Representation of Islam and Arab World


Nowadays, media becomes the witness of our lives. To know more about what things are going on around the world or to know about the culture or information of some countries, we rely on media a lot. Media provides a faster way to know things that we want to know, instead of finding the information in books. However, when people search something about Islam or Arab culture, most news or information is negative. Lots of terror attack from ISIS which are related to Islam or lots of innocent people got killed by so many reasons in Islam. Therefore, when people mention about Islam, they all come up with bad images about them, which make many people scared and think that all of them are terrorist as well. So, even though Muslim is the fastest-growing religious groups and immigration, they are among those least understood by other people (Blank, 1998). Why does that happen? This paper will show how the media present Islam and Arab culture, how media distort them, and some misconception about Islam.

First of all, how do the media present Islam and Arab culture in our lives? According to Prothero (2014), Islam is always being debated in social media, television, and even in the NFL (National Football League). There is an article about a football player named Husain Abdullah, who is a Muslim who works as Kansas City Chief Safety. He was penalized for celebrating a touchdown by praying (Prothero, 2014). This shows how people react to Islam or Muslim people. It is even worse in Western countries. More people are scared and even hate them. Recently, a research by Sprusansky (2017) investigates that 80 percent of media in U.S, UK, and Germany present Islam negatively, especially Fox News, with 100 percent. This causes Western people to misunderstood Islam and Muslim people. On the other hand, the media continue to play an important role in presenting stereotypical visions and conceptions about Islam and Muslim (Ibrahim, 2008). If people absorb this negative news without thinking, they will obviously get influenced by it. So, even though media are just presenting the truth without distorting them, it will still create misconception for us.

So, how do media distort them? There are many Anti-Muslim who used popular radio talk-show as a tool to spread messages of intolerance and hate of Muslim (Ali, 2011). As a result, many people are going to believe it since radio talk shows are popular. Moreover, national politicians, especially right-wing politicians, are supporting them because they want to raise funds and get conservative voters to the polls (Ali, 2011). Most candidates for public office also give a prejudicial speech about Muslim (Newswire, 2013). According to Newswire (2013), it also gets even harder for people to not being influenced by these media as they use popular media and have someone even powerful at the back to support this. Preventing this to happen is difficult, so many people are just letting those distorted messages being widely spread. In addition, Islamophobia use network to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslim. They even get highly paid for it. The main purpose of them doing this is to encourage the American public to fear Islam (Newswire, 2013). Politicians with high salaries promote these hatred and tolerance message spreading everywhere. Therefore, it has a connection towards Islam image that we have since the media keep showing negative news and wrong messages.

Third, if the media keeps distorting them, what kind of misconceptions occurred? Muslim’s religion is Islam of course. They teach peace and surrender, unlike what we see on news, having wars or fighting against each other. The common representation of Muslims is refugees and radicals. Muslim men are always violent and women are innocent victims. (Pennington & Kahn, 2017) In addition, Muslim men are also often represented by a masked militant rather than other normal careers (Blank, 1998). However, this is not entirely true, only some parts of them are like this. Furthermore, most widespread misconception about Islam is that Muslim is primarily Middle Eastern people. Actually, only a few of them are Middle Eastern people, whereas the others are not (Blank, 1998). In fact, Islam is conservative and liberals. For example, there are women who wear a veil and women who do not (Wolken, 2016). Still, no one really notices about that. According to this, we can know the unbalance stories about Islam, where the media put more negative news than positive news or correct culture.

To sum up, people having the misconception and bad image of Islam and Arab culture is because of seeing lots of negative news about them in the media in their daily life. Especially in Western countries, those popular TV news channels present them in a negative way as well. Lots of people around the world using popular media to spread the hatred and intolerance message about them. The people who tried to distort Islam people, are usually some national politicians and Islamophobia people. They work well together and even get paid for it. People who do not know about their culture or religion. They will believe what they see in the news. Thought that Islam or Muslim people are all refugees and radicals. Muslim men are always violent with a masked militant image and women are innocent victims. Which shows the unbalance story of Islam culture in media. To change this kind of situation, the media should balance the stories instead of only putting one side of the story. Or when we see any information on media, think first before you trust it. Find more information on other media and compare it. By comparing the news, we can be able to notice that what the truth is behind the story. On the other hand, seeing a different viewpoint and try to find the truth in the middle help a lot for absorbing the correct information as well.