Does Western Media Affect Hate Speech and Acceptance of the Other?

  • | Sunday, 12 May, 2019
Does Western Media Affect Hate Speech and Acceptance of the Other?

     All forms of media, whether audio-visual or written, are keen on attracting a large sector of audience. Therefore, they pay greater attention to the tragic and unusual events and incidents which attract large numbers of followers and viewers. Due to their substantial impact on public opinion, media should be bound by certain regulations that guarantee they are neutral and transmitting facts. However, some of the main international media outlets have contributed during the last few years to promoting hate speech which leads in turn to rejection of and even attacking others.   
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, hate speech is the speech or expression that denigrates a person or persons on the basis of (alleged) membership in a social group identified by attributes such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical or mental disability, and other.  If we are to investigate the impact of media in this regard, we find that there are two factors promoting hate speech against Muslims and inciting people to reject and attack them.
First, media coverage of the terror attacks committed by so-called Muslims. In this respect, a research from the University of Alabama reveals that "these crimes committed by Muslims receive 357% more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims (or where the religion was unknown)" .  As most of the Americans get their information about Muslims and knowledge of Islam from news media, this for sure leads them to form a very negative image of Muslims and Islam.
Second, focus on the news of the advocates of intolerance and publishing misleading news and information. Some media outlets repeatedly publish news about the numbers of Muslims in the western countries, warning that the near future will witness a demographical shift as the numbers of Muslims will dramatically increase and this will enable them to assume higher positions at government. They present this perspective as a danger that threatens the identity and culture of the peoples of these countries. With Muslims in power, they argue, they will change the national values of these countries. Yet, the fact of the matter is that all these projections and expectations of numbers are exaggerations. There is no doubt that Muslims’ numbers and presence in the public domain have increased during the last years. But the proper investigation of the matter shows that Muslims will not exceed the numbers of others in these western countries, nor do they will be able, in the near future, to reach a level where they affect the national identity and change laws and policies.
Muslims, on their part, are instructed by Islam to have good relations with others and to peacefully coexist with them. The Quran reads: "Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly." (The Quran, 60:8)

 

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