How I feel about Islamophobia and the way media portrays Muslims

NATO Summit meetings of Heads of State and Government - Final press conference

Islamophobia is the hatred, fear or prejudices towards Islam and Muslims. Were the people born with it? They obviously weren’t. I believe that Islamophobia is taught during ones lifetime. It’s a bit like racism, nobody was born racist, but depending on the way parents raise someone, or depending on the kind of friends people have or maybe even the things they have experienced can all lead to that. But what if the main cause of islamophobia was actually the main source for information for almost all people worldwide. I’m clearly referring to the media here. These days our ideas of the world are kind of formed through the media. Whether it is through the news or through some magazine you read, this TV-show that you like to watch, we are constantly taught how to think about things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing the media. It’s amazing how these days we can live in the smallest village yet we still know what’s happening in other parts of the world. But with every good thing comes a bad.

Islam and media: what’s that all about?

Islam and the media have a love/hate kind of relationship. The media often portrays Muslims as diabolic creatures whose day consists out of bombing a few areas, maybe behead some people afterwards and to finish off the day go out and abuse a couple of women. I know I’m exaggerating here, but we can’t deny that Muslims and Islam don’t have the most positive image these days. When you go out and ask people what they associate with Muslims, many people say things such as ISIS or Charlie Hebdo. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to generalise, I truly believe that there are many people out there who do try to make efforts to understand what Islam is all about. People who even try to talk to Muslims to understand it all. But we also can’t ignore the fact that there are also many people who don’t.

I believe that this is mainly the fault of mainstream media and how they always feel the need to emphasis on religion. Why does it even matter if a criminal is a Jew, a Muslim or an Atheist? The criminal is a criminal, period. To explain what I mean I’d like to give you the example of the pilot Andreas Lubitz who crashed the airplane on purpose and killed many people with him. When we heard of this news we were told that the co-pilot was depressed and it was probably an act of despair and that he wanted to kill himself. It was only after a few days that he was actually referred to as a terrorist. If this Andreas Lubitz would have been a Muslim, there probably wouldn’t even have been space to think about him having some mental problems. The world would have immediately called him a Muslim terrorist and we would all probably have said “Ugh, a Muslim. What’s new!”.

No Muslims, no media

I always try to imagine what the world would look like if Muslims or Islam would all of a sudden disappear. What would the news even look like? I imagine it to be something like this:

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I might be making fun of it and I’m also aware that I’m exaggerating in some parts but I just feel like we can’t deny that sometimes the media makes mistakes that only lead to fear and misconceptions about Islam.

What can we do?

When I was writing this article, I was thinking to myself what do I want to achieve? Do I want to convince people who hate Islam that they are wrong? No. Because this week I have learned that a miracle is needed to do that. Islamophobes are very narrow minded people who aren’t interested in having a decent conversation with you. All they want is to anger you and humiliate your religion. They live in this small cocoon filled with nothing but hate, fear and insecurities. But every time an islamophobe starts a conversation with me I have this utopic thought that I might get that person to change their mind. But at the end you start to realise that this person doesn’t want to have a conversation with you. They don’t listen to what you have to say. All they want to do is try to make a point, they do not listen at all to what you have to say. No matter how good your arguments are. So instead I remind myself to remain respectful and calm. Let’s not lower ourselves to the behaviour of these people.

Written by Latifa Saber

Latifa Saber

Latifa Saber is a 21-year-old student with strong opinions on pretty much everything. Feminism, literature and fashion are her main fields of interest.

  • Avi

    Yes, of course no one is born with Islamophobia or the love of the Quran or Mohammad for that matter. But your failure to acknowledge the problem of fundamentalism in Islam is also part of the problem. It’s a religious issue, because fanatics are driven by an ideology and, whatever the causes, or how wrong their interpretation of the Quran, they are at the end of the day Muslims just as you are. When you teach kids to value the Quran more than their education, when you thrust down verses from what you consider holy in their throats before they even have had the time to understand what humanity is about, then you are creating a breeding ground for radicals. Islam has problems with education, democracy, tolerance, and freedom of speech. Deal with these issues first before you go and blame the media.

    As for Andreas Lubitz, we still don’t know what his motivations were. The things we do know was that he was paranoid, suicidal, and was suffering from depression. And that did spark a debate about better psychological testing and understanding of mental health issues. I think America, as well as the rest of the developed world let alone other countries, have a lack of understanding and bias toward mental illness. But the fact is that doesn’t mean you should have someone who is suicidal or suffering from severe Schizophrenia in charge of the lives of hundreds of other people…There’s a distinction between tolerance and stupidity.

    His act, as terrible it was, doesn’t clearly fall into the realm of terrorism because we simply don’t know whether his aim was to destabilize a country or to prove a point about a particular ideology. Whereas the Boston Bombings (committed by devout, albeit misguided Muslims) and the Oklahoma bombings (committed by Timothy McVeigh who was probably, by his own admission, an Agnostic anarchist) clearly qualify as acts of Terrorism because the aim was to send a message to the society and justify violence in doing so.

    • Loren James

      None of the writers of the articles on this site are supporting the radicals in their religion. None of the Muslims I know are either. Are you selectively deaf each time a Muslim group or individual speaks out against the radicals? How much more must you hear to stop repeating this nonsense?
      Fundamental Jews and fundamentalist Christians put their holy book before anything else. I can personally attest to that. So why single out Islam?
      If Islam is causing the media storm how come Israel’s terrorist actions in Palestine AREN’T causing the same? Islamaphobia that’s why. If a Muslim had flown that airplane into a mountain he certainly would be labeled a terrorist – mentally ill or not.