Harvard Sample

Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 1
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase?
Professor’s name
Institution’s name
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Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 2
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase?
In 2009, a movement calling itself English Defense League (EDL) emerged in UK
with the intention of staging mass protests against what they called as Islamic extremism. The
members claimed that they were not spreading racism or violence but they could no longer
remain silent on atrocities that they believed were committed by people from Muslim
community. The movement claims that they are fighting for the right to life and property of
British people which had been denied by Muslim individuals through terrorism. The
formation of EDL was triggered by the tension that existed between British people and
members from Muslims community in Luton. The town of Luton had in the past been accused
of harboring terrorists and several counter-terrorism efforts carried out in the town by the
police officers. Muslims from this town felt threatened by the presence of soldiers who were
combating terrorism in the town. They gave the soldiers a hostile reception and complained of
discrimination from the government. The founders of EDL felt that Muslims were too much
and found it necessary to protect the general public from supremacy of Muslims in Luton. The
hostile reception received by soldiers was aired in British mass media where it attracted
attention and concern for British people. They felt that the soldiers were not given enough
respect despite the sacrifice they undergo to protect the citizens from any harm. EDL was then
formed from the subculture of football with the main aim of fighting jihadists in Britain. They
said that they were fighting for restoration of Britain to its traditional form and preventing
terrorists from turning the country into Islamic state. The movement encompassed different
individuals who were saying they are united for the peace and restoration of Luton to fight the
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 3
dangers that were posed by the Muslim community in Britain. Its main objective was to put
pressure on the government to force the Muslim extremists out of Britain. It generates its
influence from mass demonstrations which they use to force the government into giving in to
its grievances. The group had a great number of following on their social media pages such as
Facebook where it used to organize and strategize on the best methods of protests. Their
message was also passed through these pages. The movement has been able to influence the
society through their active involvement in mass media to raise awareness in UK. They have
also actively engaged in internet where they use social media platforms such as twitter and
Facebook to spread their ideologies and grievances to the general public (Allen, 2011). The
paper will try to illustrate how EDL movement has been able to cultivate the culture of
Islamophobia in society through the use of social media and mass media to create discourse
leading to social changes in the UK. The essay will show how technology and media can be
used as means of spreading disunity and discrimination in society for certain group of people
with well crafted communication to disguise their intention. It will show how media can be
manipulated to cause social changes in society that might be detrimental to certain
communities. The movement has been very successful in spreading their ideologies evident
from the high levels of Islamophobia witnessed in the UK. The paper will show the impact of
EDL in shaping public opinion and propagating Islamophobia among in UK citizens.
The movement claimed that they were fighting for democratic rights of British people
and fighting a culture in British society that believed Muslim were more superior to others.
The spirit of democracy and fight against social injustices in society can be seen from their
website where they declare that the white and blacks unite. Their movement also shows the
diversity of various groups in society such as LGBT divisions, Sikh, and Jewish groups. Their
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 4
main area of contention is migration and immigration policies (Garland et al., 2010). They
assert that the policies have led top inequality where British people are regarded as inferior in
their own country and regarded Muslims as superior group. The movement portrays Muslims
as the main danger to democratic rights, Economic rights, and political rights of British
people. They assert that Muslims are just outsiders and ‘others’ and they cannot dictate how
the UK will be governed. They assert that British people should enjoy their rights of deciding
who enters or leaves the UK to protect their democracy and privileges in their own country.
They assert that Muslims want to change the culture of Britain and totally reform their
religion which is against their democratic rights. The movement also asserts that Muslims
have been able to enjoy privileges in Britain as a result of hospitality and tolerance of British
people (Allen, 2011).
Mass media and social media are of great essence to the movement as they require
reaching a big audience. It is the media that raise the awareness and protect the democracy of
citizens in the society (Zompetti, 2012). Mass media on its part has however been
manipulated to portray Muslim community in a particular way and spread Islamophobia all
over the UK. The online world has also engaged the public in demonizing Muslims and
creating discourse in disguise of pride for one’s country. The right of British citizens have
been receiving prime-time news coverage and portrayed as an issue of concern for all British
citizens. The messages are rehearsed well by mainstream media in Britain to create a certain
public opinion and drive the agenda of EDL (Garland et al.,2010). The issue of immigration
has also received mainstream media coverage with media personalities inviting different
people to spread Islamophobia and shape public opinion. Muslims are depicted as individuals
who are closer to terrorism and danger to the society.
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 5
The issue of Islamophobia first came into public attention following 9/11 terrorist
attack in the U.S stemming hatred and negative attitudes perpetrated by society and security
forces towards people of Muslim origin. Islamophobia in Europe can be traced from certain
events that happened in the past. Some of those events include the killing of Theo Van Gogh
in 2004, Gulf War II in 2003, London terrorist bombing in 2005, Swiss minaret debate in
2009, Iran nuclear debate of 2010, Stockholm bombings of 2010, France ban of the burqa in
2011, and The Innocence of Muslims in 2012 among others. Muslims all over the world have
been under siege for events that are beyond them and which have been committed by some
individuals under the guise of Muslims (Zompetti, 2012). The media on its part has been at
the forefront of delivering messages and updates that portray Muslims in a specific way. They
are portrayed as barbaric and terrorists who fight for social inclusion and acceptance in
society (Allen, 2011). Indeed, media have released press statements and documents that shape
the society and general public to accept some kind of opinion which has led to negative
publicity and hatred towards people of Muslim origin. Communication is important, and the
society believes everything that media gives which breeds hatred and negative attitude
towards Muslims. It is through the power of communication that EDL have been able to
spread the culture of Islamophobia in the UK.
Rise of Islam religion in theUK and the world at large
There is growing interactions among all people from different cultures and religion in
Britain and other parts of the world. With Muslims growth in population, the media has the
sole responsibility of cultivating togetherness, but instead, they maintain fear of the entire
Islam religion. Different terrorist groups in the world have spread terror and threats all over
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 6
the world. EDL movement through the media has capitalized on these uncertainties to
continuously report on latest bombing and remind the world of the levels of insecurity in the
world. All the blame is laid on people from Muslim community (Zaal, 2012). They have
breed fear among other people from other religions such that everything and everyone from
Arab origin causes fear and is treated with suspicion by the society.
Regardless of any justification among the members of the population and EDL
movement, Islamophobia goes against the principles of democracy and is a big threat to the
social inclusivity and cohesion in society. The mass media on its part has ensured they write
articles and spread news regarding terrorism (Zompetti, 2012). Mass media is very powerful
and influential in the society. Attitudes created and words said by media matters greatly to the
view of terrorism in society. Communication is very important as it shapes opinions and set
agendas on the importance of certain topics in society. Any mistake done in media reporting
is bound to mislead public opinion. The media, therefore, has the sole responsibility of airing
their news responsibly and depicting all communities accurately and fairly at all times. To
integrate national and international cohesion, it is essential for the media to give reports that
breed togetherness and preach peace instead of war and hatred against one community. The
hostility has been created by EDL movement and other anti-Muslim organizations such as
PEGIDA through staging demonstrations to reject acceptance of all Muslim refugees in
society (Hjelmgaard, 2016). Muslims are facing blatant threats to their existence from all
spheres of society for events that are beyond their control. Generalizing Islam religion and
discriminating its people have led to hatred and increase in terrorist sympathizers. Through
the use of social media, EDL has engaged different individuals in Britain in all forms of hate
speech and spreading hostility towards Muslims (Hafiz, 2013).
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 7
Mass media have also succeeded in silencing professionals who hail from Muslim
community. Their contributions to society go unnoticed, and they are rarely unappreciated.
With the help of Arab intellectuals, western countries have been able to develop an advanced
system of education. Some English words such as chemistry, algebra, and coffee have Arabic
roots, but Arabs are despised and discriminated against (Shaheen, 2003).Shaheen also noted
that Arab intellectuals were able to develop astrolabes which they used for navigation,
celestial globes, developing the principles and concepts of gravity, and star maps. They were
also very instrumental in pioneering the use of longitude and latitude developed the gothic
style which is used in Europe, and also invented the water clock used in the society today.
Instead of airing such contributions to the public, mass media focuses on the negative side of
the community. Mass media have never made any efforts of creating awareness and educating
the public on the importance of Arabs and their contributions (Zompetti, 2012). Media has
developed a public opinion where people from Muslim community are regarded as worthless
and uncivilized.
Historically, Arabs have been found to provide aid to western nations. Arab soldiers
from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco fought together with French soldiers in France, Italy, and
North Africa. The UK has also benefited from the generosity of Arabs. Libyan and Jordanian
soldiers provided military aid to British soldiers. During World War II, Iraq, Saudi Arabia,
and Egypt soldiers declared war on Germany and assisted West countries to win the war
(Shaheen, 2003). The media does not educate the public on such sacrifice that Muslims have
been undertaking for peaceful coexistence in society. They only focus on the negative aspects
shaping the public to believe that Arabs have been hostile to the west and other nations of the
world since past centuries. The media have a role to play in sensitizing the public and airing
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 8
the contributions of Arabs for the betterment of society. Democracy is for everyone, and the
media should ensure that the general public is advised on how they can create a culture of
solidarity and togetherness which would improve relations in the society.
Concepts of ideology
The concept of ideology tries to explain how things around us occur. It is the mental
framework including the imagery of thought, systems of representation, language, and
categories that social groups and different classes use to explain, figure, and define how
society works (Hall, 1986). It uses power dynamics, worldviews, and hegemony to construct
an acceptable reality in society. The general public is never aware of the real situation in
society as little information is shared by those in power to create a certain opinion. Hegemony
entails who hold and control power in the community. Those in power use different ideologies
to create a certain perception to ensure they maintain their power and exert their influence on
the general public (Shaheen, 2003). The media on its part is used by those in power to ensure
that power flows in a certain way through the society and different social groups to promote
social changes (Shaheen, 2003). Individuals with most influence and wealth are mostly the
ones who are able to hold and maintain power which enable them to become hegemons. They
achieve that through commodification and alienation where the other members of society are
separated from important social issues. Hegemons challenge individuals in society to focus on
accumulating wealth and valuing possessions to enable them to enjoy power and influence in
society. The media have not failed hegemons in the society and have spread ideologies that
portray individuals from Muslim community as outsiders and terrorists. They have ensured
that hegemons achieve their agenda of depicting Muslims as worthless and dangerous to live
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 9
with leading to a culture of hostility and hatred towards Muslims. The media have supported
hegemons by educating the public on the need to reject refugees coming from Muslim
countries. They have created a public opinion and acceptance that Muslim should not be
tolerated and are uncivilized. The media is supposed to create harmony and preach peace.
They are supposed to challenge hegemons on the principles of democracy and educate
citizens on their own rights. Instead, they have been corrupted by hegemons, and the media
articles discriminate against Muslims and create fabricated stories to alienate Muslims in
society (Shaheen, 2003). EDL movement uses its power and influence to generate fear among
the general public leading to Islamophobia.
Power is supposed to be shared among the members of society, but Muslims have no
power and are underrepresented in political offices in Britain and other nations all over the
world. Without any power, the society tends to silence them and ignore the social ills that they
are subjected to. Discrimination and social injustices against Muslims have been treated as
normal around the world. Any fighting for Muslims rights is meted with resistance from
hegemons since Muslims are supposed to accept some forms of ill-treatment. EDL also
counters any arguments raised by individuals from Muslim community through demonizing
such individuals and calling them extremists of terrorist sympathizers (Shaheen, 2003).
Minority groups such as Muslim community develop false beliefs that hegemonic values and
ideals are necessary and vital for them and the general public. Hegemons use media and their
influence to deter Muslims from airing their grievances and fight for social justice and social
changes in their perceptions (Zompetti, 2012). The media should be at the forefront in airing
the place of Muslim community in society and condemn all forms of discrimination meted
against Muslims. It is the responsibility of the media to raise awareness to the general public
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 10
on the importance of democracy for everyone and social inclusivity of every member of
Everyday experiences shape the culture of a society and dictates the path such a
society will follow. Different social practices determine how individuals are going to behave
and understand themselves. EDL movement supporters know such fact too well evident from
their regular updates on their media platforms and influence on mass media to remind British
people of their rights and place in society. Those in power have also utilized discourse in
society to make Muslims feel less privileged and accept the ills that happens around them in
society. Social practices that stereotypes Muslims as terrorists have led to increase in terrorist
sympathizers which make counterterrorism efforts hard to achieve. The growth of technology
has made the world a global village (Saeed, 2007). Majority individuals in western nations
and other parts of the world have used this technology to spread hate and discriminate against
Muslims. It has brought social changes where Muslims are no longer regarded as important
individuals. Muslims are now treated with fear and suspicion by society. The media has the
responsibility of changing such perceptions and educating the public on how Muslim
community has contributed positively towards the growth of society. The media should create
awareness on the importance of both cultural and religious diversities in society. They should
also educate the general public on how they need to respect the freedom of association for
other members to spread the ideals of democracy. Such information would be very important
in bringing about social changes which would lead to acceptance of other members from
different races, cultures, and religion in the world. Through airing such information, the
society can be able to spread the spirit of love and respect for democracy and right of all
members of society (Saeed, 2007). It is the responsibility of the media to challenge historical
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 11
memories and events that have shaped the opinion of the general public. They should educate
the public on how they can challenge all what has been stated and known regarding Muslim
community and challenge them to endeavor in creating their own history of solidarity, love
and tolerance in society. However, hegemons remains very influential on media platforms and
shaping the society evident from mass media unwillingness in raising awareness in society
and contributing to the hatred we witness today. Instead of preaching peace, hegemons have
influenced media and they play a major role in producing and reproducing collective memory
of the society. The message of the media reach large audience at a particular time and shape
the society the way hegemons want them to do. Political and academic elites do not need to
spread hate through narrating past events to the public as the media does all that for them.
Historical events are given different interpretations by the media to give a particular message
to the public and alienate members from Islam community. History is interpreted to show
heroism of those in power while avoiding events that would undermine their authority. The
media keep on reminding the society how different lives and properties have been destroyed
in the past by individuals from Islam religion. EDL movement demonizes Muslim religion
and blames all misfortunes that occur in society on Muslim community. Media on the other
hand gives credence to EDL ideologies by reconnecting similar events that occurred in past to
explain the present occurrences. The narrative of the media is very unique as it is listened and
accepted by large audience. The media also brings different individuals together to voice their
views regarding certain events which make their statement to be accepted by the public. The
media creates images and words that influence the perception of the world to persuade the
society to behave in a certain way. The information persuades the public to believe that
Muslim community is the sole source of their misfortunes and trauma experienced in society
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 12
(Zaal, 2012). Through the media, ideas and thoughts of hegemons and different movements
such as EDL are disseminated to the general public with clear description on how the society
should be understood and ordered. Through such rhetoric, the media manipulates historical
events to depict the situation that hegemons want understood among the public. The
communication given by the media to generate a particular ideological perspective and
convince individuals to accept the society the way it is for hegemons to achieve a certain
goals. The same mechanism and process have been used in stereotyping Muslims and
depicting them the way hegemons want the society to understand (Saeed, 2007). The language
that is used in the media to narrate events regarding Muslims is clearly crafted to define
members of society, Muslims, material world, and how all these relate with one another. The
narrations are organized and formulated to create fear among the society on members of Islam
community among all society members (Zaal, 2012).
Communication is also powerful, and the military personnel is now using media to
disseminate rhetoric statements to the targeted audience. With the integration of the world,
nations have realized that they need to not only protect themselves against enemies but also
protect nations that are politically and economically allied to them. Acquiring allies requires
verbal posturing from nations that want to establish their superiority over the smaller
countries. The culture, social and economic institutions, and the technology of a nation are
constructed in a certain way to portray a national image that is acceptable internationally.
Superpowers are able to enjoy their hegemons attribute if their technology, culture, and
institutions are emulated in other nations. The nation representatives must craft their messages
carefully to create a good picture for their country. Any person giving out any message is
conscious about how the message will be received and effects of such utterances. When a
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 13
nation like Britain gives a statement that discriminates against members of Muslim
community, their statements do affect not only the targeted audience but also the international
community. Their actions cause other nations to treat Muslim community with suspicion, and
the social ills are repeated in the whole world. Any rhetoric act that is taken by major nations
such as Britain, Russia, China, U.K or U.S has the potential to transform and reinforce current
political and social patterns (Saeed, 2007). It is the major countries that dictate the path that
smaller nations follow. Social injustices perpetrated against Muslim community in UK and
western nations are bound to be done in the whole world.
The rhetoric and ideology are spread through the media to disseminate political
language. Political language does not base the realities and facts based on the rational
thoughts of subjects. The language is inscribed to the public to generate social and emotional
reaction towards Muslim members of society. EDL movement ensures it produces and
disseminates messages that shape the society through their various platforms such as social
media or posting on their website. Mass media on its part ensure that it replay images that
evoke certain responses and reactions from the viewers. Such reactions include the feeling of
patriotism, nationalism or pride. The society is made to believe that everyone should be
patriotic to his country and immigrants such as those of Muslim origin create hatred and kill
innocent citizens. The viewers are made to believe that discriminating and alienating such
communities will be more helpful to the nation and society at large. Mass media has framed
people from the Middle East and Islam as terrorists leading to Islamophobia in society. Any
efforts to air the grievances of the Muslim community are silenced by hegemons through
media and anti-Muslim movement (Zompetti, 2012). Any agenda to be highlighted in media
is carefully controlled to avoid challenging hegemons or addressing the issue of diversity in
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 14
society. The society is made to believe that all immigrants and citizens from other countries
and cultures are intruders who want to spread insecurity in their country. Members of the
Muslim community are regarded as an enemy as they are believed to be the cause of stress
among the population. All the negative conditions including economic strains are blamed on
Muslim community. The society is also created to refuse to show any empathy to members of
Islam community.
In conclusion, the paper has highlighted the impact of social movements such as EDL
in shaping public opinions and effecting social changes in society. The paper has depicted
how hegemons create messages and use media to disseminate their opinions to the society.
Acceptance of hegemons and EDL movement messages by the media has led the world to
believe that major atrocities witnessed in the world are caused by certain religions that are evil
and worthless. The media have used their influence to shape public opinion and set the
perception of the public on policies relating to foreign and domestic policy. It has achieved
the objective of the political class of depicting the Muslim community as being composed of
individuals that mean harm to the community and with intentions to destroying the dominant
system of the general public. The society is also made to believe that everyone who hails from
the Muslim nation is evil and anything good with them is destructive to the dominant system.
With that, the Muslims are discriminated and alienated by all members of society. The growth
of technology has enabled the members of society to spread hate and discriminate members of
Islam religion.
Islamophobia; is the media to blame for its increase? 15
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