ISLAMPHOBIA THROUGH INTERNET JOURNALISM

Written by Jaihasra Jamaludin

Internet has developed rapidly since the introduction of the new technologies in the 1980s as a tool and methods to spread the news and information to a large audience for a variety of reason. Undoubtedly, internet is very important and has become part of our routine and life. Despite its great important, however, internet also generates a number of negative implications. A dark side effect of the internet is the rapid reproduction and quick legitimization of discrimination. This is particularly evident that internet journalism will pursue inducement towards Islamophobia.

Popular anti-Islamic websites such as thereligionofpeace.com and JihadWatch.org marked a new era of the industry of Islamophobia that entertains a positivist collection and populist exhibition of the criminality of Islam. Terrorist attacks and suicide bombers are counted, stoning and honour killing pictured, images of oppressed Muslim women pitied and other stories of Muslim backwardness digitalized, all rosters of ‘Muslim’ inferiority. They are then viewed, copied, emailed and forwarded. The ‘vindicate’ the heavily biased worldwide already common in the influential US media and reinforce such as worldwide (Chao 2015).

Islamophobia referring to the action of prejudice, hatred towards, or fear, bias and dislike against Islam or Muslims by others religion. Some researcher agreed an increase in Islamophobia are resulting from the September 11 attacks, while others have associated it with the increased presence of Muslims in the United States, the European Union and other secular nations.

“Islamophobia is a contemporary form of racism and xenophobia motivated by unfounded fear, mistrust and hatred of Muslims and Islam. Islamophobia is also manifested through intolerance, discrimination and adverse public discourse against Muslims and Islam. Differentiating from classical racism and xenophobia, Islamophobia is mainly based on radicalisation of Islam and its followers” (International Civil Liberties Alliance 2013)

Several elements can affect the interactions and degree of respect between Muslim and Western societies. Differences in culture, education, religion, economy and political interests may shape one population’s opinion toward the other.

 

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Image credit: aa.com Image source

Two prominent British journalists have openly embraced Islamophobia as a justifiable stance. Shortly after publication of the 1997 Runnymede Trust report, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wrote “I am an Islamophobia, and proud of it” while Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle presented a talk a decade later entitled “Islamophobia? Count me in” (cited in Oborne & Jones, 2008, p. 14). These writers emphasised their distrust of Islam as a doctrine rather than hostility toward Muslims as a group (Bleich 2011: 4).

 

The inducement or the increasing of the Islamophobia through the internet journalism may be categories to a few aspect such as fear factor, stereotypes, prejudice, racism, misinterpretation and anti-Islamic. This factor driven people to create issues and share their perception and finding through internet. They will influence the other readers to think and react as they are.

In recent years, anti-Muslim prejudice in the West has intensified, becoming manifested in physical attacks, mosque vandalism, government profiling, Qur’an burning and even murder. The rise in Islamophobia has been connected to international politics and specifically to a rising fear of terrorism, which has been linked to the religion of Islam. The 3 main incident that driven to the Islamophobia such as on 11 September 2001 where terrorists flew planes into the twin towers of the national trade centre in New York killing thousands of people. On 7 July 2005, terrorists killed 55 people and injured hundreds more on the London Underground by blowing up bombs that they were carrying in their rucksacks. On 30 June 2007, the terrorists drove a jeep into Glasgow airport, fortunately without causing serious injury to any members of the public.

In Malaysia, the freedom of speech and expression can be easily abused where irresponsible people or community using this medium to inflame racial conflict, perspective and misinterpretations about other. For example the blogger Alvin Tan, he uses the internet as a medium to critic, insult, share an opinion and taught about Islam. It’s showed that the freedom of expression and irresponsible opinion can jeopardise the community if the technologies have been misused.

The infamous sex blogger is at it again (not that he has ever stopped), and no, we are not talking about his latest homemade pornography which was released just 2 days ago—and was very efficiently blocked by MCMC (Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission). Most of his social media followers are no strangers to his controversial acts and offensive statements. But this time, he might not be so easily forgiven by his large 85k following on Facebook as even a lot of them think that he went too far. Just few hours ago, Alvin posted a photo collage in a comic strip form of him defecating, and then tearing out a page from an Al-Qur’an to “clean up the mess”. To be respectful to our readers, we will refrain from posting the picture here, but you can view it at your own discretion. Alvin Tan himself has confirmed that he did, infact use his own waste matter in the picture (Khoo 2015).

Other case about Ahmed Mohamed, 14, from Irving, Texas, who made the clock with a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display stuffed inside a hologram case and brought it into school to show to his engineering teacher, however he was arrested by police officers after school officials accused him of making a fake bomb. This incident trending worldwide through social media with many saying that the student was profiled because he’s Muslim and racism factors.

To understand why a Texas school would arrest a 14-year-old student for bringing in a homemade clock, it helps to understand what came before: the TV news hosts who declare Muslims “unusually barbaric,” the politicians who gin up fear of Islam, the blockbuster film that depicts even Muslim children as dangerous threats, and the wave of hatred against Muslims that has culminated several times in violence so severe that what happened to Mohamed, while terrible, appears unsurprising and almost normal within the context of ever-worsening American Islamophobia (Fisher 2015).

Stereotypes defined as a group of people on how they carry the believed and perception towards the issues based on the culture created by old generation. The young people follow the believed, thinking and understanding that from the past generation. The perception about Muslim and Islam become stereotype when they believed Muslim are all terrorists.

Stereotypes about Islam are not new to Western culture and can be traced back 1400 years. At the time, Islam and Christianity were involved in the Crusades during the Ottoman and Morish control in Europe. Islam spread quickly to the west and threatened the position of the Christian Church and ruling classes. The western elites, mainly the governments and the churches, then became highly involved in seeing that negative images were presented about Islam. As the result, not only were battles fought against Islam, but also a war of words was initiated to make sure that Islam would not have any converts or sympathisers in the West (Haque, 2011)

The misinterpretation of Islam and Muslim people also occur when the government, the politician, celebrities, individual, communities and the media people did not play their roles to overcome Islamophobia issue. The irresponsible parties, who write, shared and posting the wrong information and news in online medium about the terrorism, wars and bomb attack incident attributed by Muslim all over the world also contributed to this issues.

Many Muslims complain that the TTP, ISIL, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda cause the biggest misrepresentation of Islam – and they become highly active in denouncing them, demonstrating against them, or holding conferences and lectures intellectually criticising them and openly advocating Muslims to disassociate themselves from them. While it is true that the methods and tactics of these groups can misrepresent Islam to those who don’t know better, people actually miss the larger and more egregious perpetrators of the misrepresentations of Islam – the Muslim governments, the media and politicians of the Western world, and ultimately, the Muslim world itself (Al Andalusi 2014).

This all factors shown the racism and discrimination against Muslim in western cultures were increases by the misleading article, news and information produce through the journalism internet that reach global audience. The social media nowadays also became the huge and strong impact toward racism when people have their own space to express their feeling, hatred and racism.

The media recently fails to distinguish between promoting Islam by individual Muslims from different walks of life, as a result of the goodness of their character and attitude and the nobility of their actions, on the one hand, and promoting Islam through planned action undertaken by professionally trained Muslims, on the other.

A further negative impact of Islamophobia is that Muslim insights on ethical and social issues are not given an adequate hearing and are not seen as positive assets. ‘Groups such as Muslims in the West,’ writes an observer, ‘can be part of transcultural dialogues, domestic and global, that might make our societies live up to their promises of diversity and democracy. Such communities can facilitate communication and understanding in these fraught and destabilising times.’ But Islamophobia makes this potential all but impossible to realise (Inservice Training and Educational Development 2015).

Prejudice and discrimination against Muslims is not a new phenomenon. But today, efforts to address Islamophobia are needed more than ever before. The media, Muslim groups or organisations roles and function, legislation provide to protect Muslim community, educate non-Muslim about what are Islam really is and awareness about Islam should applied and infuse to avoid Islamophobia issues.

 

REFERENCES

Inservice Training and Educational Development (2015). Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia : Islamophobia and Race Relations. Retrieved 13 November 2015, from http://www.insted.co.uk/relations.html
Fisher. M (2015). It’s not just Ahmed Mohamed: anti-Muslim bigotry in America is out of control. Retrieved 13 November 2015, from http://www.vox.com/2015/9/16/9336967/ahmed-mohamed-islamophobia
Khoo. J (2015). Alvin Tan’s Latest Outrageous Act With The Al-Qur’an Receives Brutal Flak From Netizens. Retrieved 13 November 2015, from https://vulcanpost.com/447461/alvin-tan-al-quran-netizens-outrage/
International Civil Liberties Alliance(2013). The Problematic Definition of “Islamophobia”. Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://www.libertiesalliance.org/2013/09/22/problematic-definition-islamophobia/
Al Andalusi, A (2014). Who causes the worst Misrepresentation of Islam? Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://abdullahalandalusi.com/2014/12/29/who-cause-the-worst-misrepresentation-of-islam/
Bleich’. E (2011). What is Islamophobia and How Much Is There? Theorizing and Measuring an Energing Comparative Concept. American Behavioral Scientist. SAGE Publications.
Chao. E.C (2015). The Truth About Islam.Com: Ordinary Theories of Racism and Cyber Islamophobia. Critical Sociology. SAGE Publications.
Haque. F (2011). Global Media, Islamophobia and Its Impact on Conflict Resolution. Institute of Hazrat Mohamamad (SAW)

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