By Aziz A. Mubaraki,
There are numerous cases to judge whether there is bias against Muslims in the media, but in recent times look no further than the press coverage regarding the terrorist attack that took place in Norway not very long ago. Impartial population waited impatiently to read this act being explicitly described as a “terrorist attack” or an “act of terrorism” by the mainstream media.
But never once the “Christian” label was used despite the fact that Mr. Breivik was a self-described devout Christian often comparing his “holy” mission to that of the Knights Templar, a group of warriors that formed the core of the Crusades who invaded Muslim lands during the 12th century. To use the Christian label would certainly be wrong as it is well established that Christianity, like Islam and Judaism, never ignore acts of violence against innocent people.
But notwithstanding the fact that the alleged executor of the attack was a Christian who is well known in Facebook circles, the religion, while mentioned in some articles, was never the center of attention. The media instead described the attacker as a “far right-wing” extremist who was inclined by a “Neo-Nazi” type of philosophy.
Therefore the important question is: Why is it when the person responsible for the terrorist act happens to be Muslim all of a sudden the religion becomes the focus instead? And Terms such as “Islamic terrorism”, “Islamic extremism” or “Islamic fundamentalism” are often used to describe the ideology the killer clings to. The Western governments add fuel to the fire of Islamophobic sentiments in their societies with inflammatory and rabble-rousing actions and statements, the Western media mischievously try their best to portray a lopsided, biased and prejudiced image of Muslims in an attempt which should be interpreted as an incontestable crusade against more than 25% of the world population.
It is important to know that Muslims have been predictably considered as the villains of the fables of the Western governments and despite their undeniable and precious services to the world, they never received a fair, reasonable and humane treatment by the superpowers, either from the dishonest, deceitful and warmonger Russia that massacred some 50,000 innocent Muslims in Chechnya, or from the egotistical, bullying United States that caged scores of blameless Muslims in its illegitimate, underground confinement in Guantanamo bay and Abu Ghraib following the 9/11 attacks. As a result of such malicious propaganda by the unfair media the public got so much used to using these house-hold tags, that many from the community are being called ‘Osama,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘al-Qaeda’ in the workplace, by their co-workers or are not being hired or are sacked just because of their hijab’s.
But nobody asked the Western media that how it would be possible to defend the killing of unarmed civilians as an act of self defense while they even lacked a knife to defend their lives against the rifles of the Israeli commandos. When it was needed to lower the depth of the truth, the mainstream media scored the best goal: 3,500 guiltless Gazans were massacred in a short period of less than 3 weeks, and the Western media acted so unsympathetically that one might have felt as if nothing had really taken place!
Although the European and American politicians and statesmen have unarguably admitted that Israel is the sole owner of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, they have never made any effort to inspect Israel’s nuclear armory which contains up to 200 atomic warheads; however, they have destroyed Iraq and have lethally put an ever-increasing demands on Iran to abandon its nuclear rights and put an end to its nuclear program which the International Atomic Energy Agency has avowed as nonviolent and unthreatening.
The unfair Media deliberately introduce Muslims as terrorists and try to institutionalize the idea that Muslims are always inclined to carry out excessive actions such as killing the other people or persecuting the followers of other religions or forcing them to convert to Islam. They misuse some pillars and principals of Islam to portray their preferred image of this religion and its followers and hence spread panic and fear among the Europeans and Americans.
The Western media outlets never show the real image of Islam to their audiences and neither tell them that the essence of this religion is based on mutual respect, benevolence, peace, love and human dignity. They never allude to the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was one of the pioneers of human rights in his time and emphasized on preserving and respecting the human dignity enormously. They never reveal the verses of Holy Quran in which it is declared that killing one person is tantamount to killing all of the persons in the view of Islam. They never tell their audiences that in the view of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it was even unlawful to kill a sparrow for the sake of entertainment. Hence will the mainstream media ever admit that they too share some responsibility in helping promote hatred towards Muslims?
Unfortunately, the public opinion in the West is unaware of the realities of Islam and Muslims. The media has the power to shape the public opinion one way or the other and expecting impartiality will never be considered as seeking a favour. In the words of Malcolm X “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power”
(The author is Member, Advisory Committee, Airport Authority of India (NSC), Ministry of Civil Aviations, Government of India)