Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Media Needs to Bring People Together in the Face of Terrorism, Not Drive Them Apart

A video emerged earlier this week of a man in a supermarket insulting a Muslim woman by calling her 'Batman' and then telling her how he knew a 'white girl who married a Muslim man and she had a poster of an ISIS flag on the back wall'. Just one day prior to this, an innocent Muslim woman was involved in a hit-and-run accident at an anti-Islam rally. This is just a number of recent Islamophobic incidents since Islamic State's attacks on Paris in 2015 and Brussels earlier this year. As tensions mount, the life of the regular Muslim becomes harder and the scapegoating of the media becomes more prominent.

Thanks to the power of media, they have been able to take innocent victims and turn them into the perpetrators. Regular Muslims are struggling to coexist in modern society without someone giving them suspicious looks or comments. In a BBC documentary entitled Is Britain Racist? a young Muslim girl dressed in a full burqa is faced with abuse from passers-by within 10 minutes just because of the stigma attached to what she is wearing. It's just not fair that everyday people have to be punished for the crimes of those who use the Muslim religion as a means for their hate.

Time and time again, the news makes it perfectly clear how terrorists are Muslim or non-white. Where's the news that white Americans are actually the biggest terror threat in the US? I want to hear about the Ted Kaczynskis and the Timothy McVeighs because they DO exist and in just as equal measure. While the blame is not solely on the media but individuals too, the media don't seem to do anything to help the already negative view on ethnic minorities.

It's not just the west affected by terrorism. In the tragic attack aimed at Christians this Easter in Lahore, only 14 of the 75 dead were Christians; the rest were Muslim. Yet where is the Pray for Pakistan profile picture? Where is the extensive news coverage? In what many people are calling 'selective sympathy', the event was treated as a fleeting moment for the major news stations as it didn't receive nearly as much coverage as the Brussels attack. Of course, not one catastrophe is more important than the other but just because it is further away does not make it less significant. I heard little about the only positive aspect of this story, how people from all over Pakistan were donating blood to the victims, be they Christian or Muslim.

Image: latuff2 / deviantart
 We are convinced by the media that the terrorists are the majority but not only are they the exact opposite, more is being done day by day to combat terrorism. While the media's intention is to inform the public of the events around them, by giving such terrorist groups the fear-mongering publicity they need to gain momentum, the coverage on terrorism ends up being counter-intuitive.

In light of the 2015 attacks in the French capital, we saw the benefits of social media in particular, with Facebook allowing locals to mark that they were safe to their friends and family. We need to see more of this, and less promoting Islamophobia, especially with ridiculous amounts of Donald Trump coverage, a man who wants to supposedly ban all Muslims from entering America.

The media has so much influence and power among society and tools such as social media can be used positively as it has done for movements like feminism. The No More Page 3 campaign gained significant following through Facebook and other social media sites, and thanks to their message, their petition gained over 200,000 signatures and topless models on page 3 of The Sun were quietly axed as of 2015.

This is exactly the kind of thing we need to hear more about. Instead of worrying about the spread of ISIS, we need more uplifting spirits. We must remember that we are the majority. Individually we may not be able to do a lot, but collectively we have the power to make a difference. It is up to us to filter through the sea of fear-mongering and ignorance and make a stand for the oppressed, regardless of race or gender.


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