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Terrorism and the Media


Media is a powerful social tool that has a significant potential to sway the manner in which people think about societal ideologies. Media influence is very detrimental to some identified classes within the human society, especially groups that represent the minorities. The myth behind the alleged relationship between Islam and terrorism has left many domestic communities in a dilemma. Generally, media has tarnished the true image of the Islamic religion through a number of ways that distort people’s perceptions and attitude towards Islam. Specifically, the western media platform frequently labels Islam as an ethnologically unformed and regressive, chauvinist, unjust, extremist, and ferocious religion. Nevertheless, there has been a general belief that Muslims are not violent. Some facts support that the majority of them oppose the Jihad, a situation that has led to two different viewpoints. On one hand, this belief had led people to believe that the Islamic religion is inherently violent. On the other hand, other people believe that Islam is not inherently violent, but is susceptible to hijacking or distortion that promotes violence. By exploring the two viewpoints, this paper reveals how several media reporting incidents have embraced an ideology that Islam is inherently violent.

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Islam, Terrorism, and the Media

According to Vlas (2010), continual and persistent misinterpretation is evident with reference to the paradigms that form the basis of the Islamic doctrine. According to the author, these terrorist activities have forced many domestic communities to live with terror and fear of the Islamic religion due to negative publicity of the doctrine. The author emphasizes that the western media has a tendency to link the origin of terrorist activities to Islamic religion. Yungher (2007) reveals that the media regards the culprits of terrorism as “Islamic terrorists.” The author notes that the media has a strong focus on those terrorist groups that have developed in the Islamic regions worldwide, whilst having less focus on terrorist groups that have their establishments in non-Islamic countries such as Northern Ireland, Latin America, and Spain.

Essentially, these typecast definitions have negative effects on the reasoning capabilities of domestic communities. This tendency sways them to link the religion to vehemence and extremism frameworks. The propensity of misconstrued terror originality has enhanced negative publicity of dominant stereotyped images of Islamic constructs. It is evident that the majority of the media reporting implies that terrorism is an inherent propensity of Muslims and Islam (Mamdani, 2002). The author reveals that certain social forces influence the understanding of journalists. These social forces drive the journalists towards making unjust announcements about the occurrence of terrorist activities. Categorically, any Muslim can ardently attest that Islamism has absolutely nothing to do with terrorist activities. However, some researchers have claimed that terrorist groups disguise as Muslims, thus distorting the principled Islamic knowledge and peaceful ways of life.

This formation of terrorist activities has significant psychological effects to the domestic communities (Vlas, 2010). However, negligence of the media to investigate the engineers of terrorism leads them towards negative publicity about the Islamic religion. Undoubtedly, the media does a great deal to impact societal knowledge. Therefore, as dynamic shifts take place in the media industry, change is anticipated in the manner in which journalists portray Muslim and Islam in different media contexts. For instance, during the 11 September 2001 violence, many journalists from the west used their diverse and contradictory tendencies to falsify and replicate undesirable stereotypes that misrepresented the culture of Muslims and Islam (Mamdani, 2002). Despite the devastating effects of the terrorist attack that led to the demise of innocent souls, the author criticizes the blame on the Islam community as misleading to the domestic community.

Nevertheless, a few representatives of the media industry believe that Islam is not inherently violent. Rather, susceptibility to hijacking and/or distortion predisposes some Muslims to violence. For instance, the aftermaths that followed the September 11 led to a series of vengeful violence between the US and Afghanistan. Vlas (2010) opposes the belief that Islam is inherently violent. The author claims that the revenge activities had a variety of negative effects to the Islamic and non-Muslim communities. He explains that the revengeful events contributed to the radicalization of Muslim youths to join terror organizations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition to hatred of Muslims in the west, the feeling that the Western media displays a falsified image of Muslims compels the radicals of the Islamic community to exercise vengeful tactics through abuse of the Jihad, which is often misjudged as the ‘the holy war.’ Yungher (2007) quotes various incidences where the media misinformed the public about Islamic terrorist attacks while intelligent reports indicated that there were no Muslims involved in such terrorist activities.


Based on the expositions made in the paper, it is evident that the Muslim community has faced a significant misrepresentation from the media. Governments should persuade the media to ensure critical examination of the cause of terrorist activities before spreading unclear information to the public. The knowledge of Islamic socio-historical context is essential not only to the media but also to other people to relate Islamic dogmas and the tight spot that has led many people and religious groups around the world to develop Islamic phobia. The concerned governments should provide sound knowledge about Muslims and Islamic culture through the Muslims-Against-Terrorism (M.A.T) initiative. Nevertheless, research attests that Muslims are the most peaceable nationalities in the west. There is a need to engage the media in interreligious and interethnic dialogues in an attempt to appreciate and reconcile religiously and culturally diverse world communities. The media should disseminate sensible and vigilant information cautiously to avoid stereotyping not only the Muslim community but also other religious doctrines.

Reference List

Mamdani, M. (2002). Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism. American Anthropological Association, 104(3), 766-775.

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Yungher, I. (2007). Terrorism: The Bottom Line. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Vlas, N. (2010). Is Religion Inherently Violent? Religion as a threat and Promise for the global security. Politics and Religion 4(2): 297-314.

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