The word Islamophobia means “fear of Islam” especially as a political force. Whereas using it against the Muslims and the Islamic communities, mostly in the western media is the normal practice, It causes the spread of hatred against the specific community. It appeared in the United States for the very first time researches says, during the growing political influence of Muslims in 1979 because of the Iranian Revolution. It was on the peak after the 9/11 incident and repeatedly highlighted during the Afghan war by western media.
Now, social media like 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 a terrorist, affecting 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 online Facebook pages, he found 494 posts and comments pointing hateful comments towards Muslim identity directly.
Now, to counter the situation, there is a need to change the media mainstream from ‘war journalism’ to ‘peace journalism’ in my view. It aims to provide opportunities to masses to develop their own point of view in case of conflicts, by providing them with a proper contextual background. Media can play a potential role in combating against Islamophobia and other such racist moments all over the world. It can play a 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 religion-based hate crimes instead of reacting on their own. Muslim organizations should form a collective platform in collaboration of the media to work together, 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 victim in a stereotypical way. These people need to uplift the stories of peace and brotherhood and voice of Muslim people on social media. Muslims must not repost 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 the case of an individual, 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 policies towards their exploitation as a whole. 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.
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