Islamophobia And The Media

Today in American society it is apparent some people have negative ideas and perceptions of Islam and Muslims. Hate crimes against Muslims have risen in the United States, leading to the introduction of the term ‘Islamophobia’ into the everyday vocabulary of Americans. Muslim people are classified as hate crimes as manifestations of Islamophobia. The word “Islamophobia” is a concept that refers to fear, inequality, discrimination, bigotry, hate or dislike of Islam and Muslims. Islamophobia has become part of a larger conversation about multiculturalism, racism, and diversity. There are many reasons why Islamophobia exists in America today. One explanation is the prevalence of xenophobia and racism in America. Another is that Islamophobia is the result of legitimate fear of Muslims following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and subsequent actions taken by terrorist organizations since. Yet another explanation and the one which I will focus on for my research is that negative and essentialist depictions of Muslims as terrorists in the media (newspaper) lead Americans to overwhelmingly associate Islam with terrible actions and ideals. Through the stereotypes and misconception that all Muslims are Arabs that is discussed in the media, some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are converts to Islam in every corner of the world, according to many sources, more than 20000 Americans convert to Islam every year (Mohammad Sakib Arifin: June 2016).

We can see that there are many converts in America as it is a diverse community consisting of many different races, ethnic groups, and nationalities. The media generally focuses on negative stories and events about Islam and Muslim. The majority of the stories about Muslim are about violence and terrorism: While 81% of domestic terrorism suspects are identified as Muslims in national news, the FBI reports that only 6% of terrorism suspects are Muslim. (Lee Bowman: 2015). Also, 80% of ABC and CBS and 60% of fox coverage of Muslims is negative. The discrepancy in that the amount of media coverage of violence committed by non-Muslims vs. acts committed by Muslims. Labeling acts of violence by Muslims as terrorism while similar violent acts by non-Muslims are not called terrorism (Adam Johnson: Feb. 6, 2017). Therefore, I would like to explore how Islamophobic messages in the media affect American converts to Islam. I am interested to know how stereotypes perpetuated by the media that all Muslims are Arab affect the convert community and their relationship to their American identity. Also, how have negative messages about Islam post-9/11 motivated or inhibited converts from converting to Islam?

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Literature Review

The international media coverage of 9/11 crystallized the image of Muslims as terrorists, becoming the central depiction of Muslims in American society and spawning Islamophobia. In the article “Islamophobia or Restorative Justice – Tearing the Veil of Ignorance” What one needs to understand is that the 9/11 attacks were an attack not only on American citizens but also on the superpowers’ hegemonic ego (Amjad-Ali, 2006: 21). According to Ali, the trauma of an attack on American soil forever changed the West’s perception of terrorism and Islam which led the whole society to blame the Muslim community. Especially after the 9/11 attacks, many blamed the whole religion of Islam for preaching destruction and violence. Ali argued that now almost all terrorists are assumed to be Muslim. As such, people from Muslim countries and with Muslim identities have often profiled and assumed guilty (Ali, 2006: 125). To be clear about his argument toward Americans’ current views about Muslims and the Islamic religion. “The report found that 25% of Americans believe Islam supports violence, but only 2% of those surveyed stated that they were familiar with the scriptures and beliefs set forth by Islam. A fifth of respondents reported they believed Muslims should be held to higher levels of restrictions and limitations than other Americans” (CAIR: 2005).Searching for incidents of Islamophobia on a global scale riled by the worldwide anger which broke out over the publishing of certain biting cartoons described Islam’s holiest character, the Prophet Muhammad, in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. when cartoons rudely depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s holiest figure, the subsequent backlash from Muslims all over the world provoked a counter-attack as many in the West defended their rights of free speech and doubled-down on Islamophobic rhetoric. These images were re-published in February 2006 caused disorder in Muslim society, and again, Islamophobia became mainstream as the Muslim communities of the world protested violently and non-violently (Ferruh, Yilmaz: 2011).

The role that media in the television plays in establishing America’s views of Islam has been widely discussed. Documents from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) produced by Gallup in 2009 concluded that “Islam is not only the religion that is most frequently mentioned in television news in the United States, but also a significant share of the coverage is negative.” Gallup’s report found that “media coverage mentioned Islam 36% of the time when a religion was being discussed, more than any other religion, and that two-thirds of the discussion about Islam associated it with extremism. The research also found that Islam was referred to negatively 40% of the time, while Christianity was spoken of negatively half that much” (CAIR: 2005). Some scholars proof that the media represented stereotyped about the Muslims as they are as violent, lustful, and barbaric (Karim: 2003: 110). Another scholar, Sajid says that the film industry is even more effective in the portrayal of Arabs and Muslims in a manner that creates hate and prejudice in the hearts and minds of international viewers (Sajid: 2005: 13). Sajid also mentioned that the Arab and Muslim groups living in the United States have struggled to combat these negative images, but do not have the power… (Sajid: 2005: 13). Sajid makes reference to a United Nations special investigation on religion carried out by a Tunisian lawyer, Abdul Fattah Amor, who is 1999, reported that a pervasive Islamophobia existed in the United States and that it was fed by a “hate-filled” image of Muslims presented in the media (Sajid: 2005: 13). This shows that Islamophobia reflected both racial and religious intolerance for the Muslim community in the United States.

In Journey into America, Ahmed interviews the wide range of the people who convert to Islam including African Americans, White Americans, and Latino Americans. Although some convert before gaining a clear understanding of the Islamic faith, they sought to learn more about Islam, its followers, and the meaning of being a true Muslim. According to Ahmed, converts ” also have some idea of Islam’s contributions to art, architecture, and culture: they recognize the Taj Mahal as a Muslim monument.” (Akbar Ahmed: 2009: 305). Beyond the negative media coverage, this shows that people who converted to Islam are attracted to its sense of justice and compassion. They do not just see Islam as a religion–they see it as something that can express their feelings and interests. Also, this shows how justice is represented in Islam which is a moral virtue and an attribute of human personality, Justice is close to equality in the sense that it creates a state of balance in the distribution of rights and obligations.Methodology: My research is going to explore how Islamophobic messages in American media affects the Muslim convert community. I am interested in talking about Islamophobia in the media particularly in the convert community because I think it is important to understand why some people convert to Islam. There can be many scenarios in which a person can decide to convert to Islam. In most cases, people convert to Islam after hearing or seeing something that impressed them, while knowing very little about the faith itself.

For this research, I am going to do a fieldwork study focusing on learning more about the non-African American group who converted to Islam. Within my main research question, I will show how media be held responsible for propagating Islamophobia and shaping public opinion? Some challenges I anticipate to face doing this research are letting the interview become a one-way question and answer session, which would be too much about the interviewer’s experiences and not just about answering my questions. Another challenge I might face is some people might not be interested in talking about my topic, so I have to get their attention and interest to talk and share their experiences. Also, some people may provide the answers that they believe that I want to hear, rather than the most accurate answer, so I have to find a way to get them to tell the facts and not just make up some stories. This research is relevant because the world sees Muslim people as terrorists and within the frame of the global war on terror. Therefore, there is a need to better understand the Muslim world because it is more urgent than ever, and the media has played an important role in categorizing and defining Muslims to the world. Thus, it is very important to find a way to encourage the preservation of Muslim identity and make it easier for outsiders to understand that not all Muslims in this group is bad.


This paper is looking at the consequences of the media’s perception of Islam shows on Muslims. Through this research, I want to get a better understanding of how Islam and Muslims can be reaffirmed rather than mistreated by the media in America, and particularly how this mistreatment affects the Muslim convert community. This is a very important issue because media has a very important impact on our belief system Therefore, we must be aware of where bias can come from as well as promoting change within media as the media has very large institutional impacts on our society.


  1. Akbar, Ahmed. “Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam”, November 18, 2011.
  2. Ali , Amjad. “Islamophobia or Restorative Justice – Tearing the Veil of Ignorance.” NGO Pulse, 28 Nov. 2006,
  3. Bassiri-Ghanea, Kambiz. A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  4. Bowman, Lee, and Scripps News. “Research Shows News Overrepresents Muslims as Perpetrators of Domestic Terrorism.” WFTS, 9 Jan. 2015,
  5. Campbell, John C. “The Southern Highlander and His Homeland”. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, with a new forward by Rupert B. Vance and An Introduction by Henry D. Shapiro. 1921, 1969.
  6. Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). American Public Opinion about Islam and Muslims. Council on American-Islamic Relations: Reports and Surveys. (Washington, DC: CAIR, 2005)
  7. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States.
  8. Council on American-Islamic Relations: Reports and Surveys. Winter 2010.
  9. “Coverage of American Muslims Gets Worse.” Media Tenor,
  10. Ferruh, Yilmaz. “The Politics of the Danish Cartoon Affair: Hegemonic Intervention by the Extreme Right.” Communication Studies , 2011,
  11. Johnson, Adam. “How Corporate Media Paved the Way for Trump’s Muslim Ban.” FAIR, 20 June 2017,
  12. Karim, K.H. (2003). Making sense of the “Islamic Peril”: Journalism as cultural practice.Sajid, A. (2005). Islamophobia: A new word for an old fear. Retrieved February 17, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

The Myth Of The Frontier

The mythic frontiersman was created by the writers of the nineteenth century, people saw the west as a place to be escaped to in order to get away from the social structures and pressures of the east. With these myths of the west came the American frontier which was seen as the edge of civilization. Many people wrote on these myths, such as Richard Slotkin wrote three different books on the subject, one of which was titled Fatal Environment. While the myths of the frontier may not have been perfect reality, I do believe that it was pretty close. There were different versions of this myth, the version where farmers, ranchers and miners saw the freedom and the rooted imagination that came from the novels and literature such as Coopers Leatherstocking Tales.

People were used to what they had only seen and experienced, and the further west they went the more new experiences they gained and the more they learned of the lands potential. Of course, people such as the miners, ranchers and farmers are going to see the west as a symbol of freedom because after they’ve worked and survived in the east so long, they are going to see the west as untouched land which gives them many opportunities of earning more. According to Richard Slotkin, America was a wide-open land of unlimited opportunity which was proven with the discovery of brand-new mining regions as well as the growth of cattle industry with the cowboys driving herds of longhorns north toward cattle markets. With the myth of the frontier came such things as the cowboys. Just as the frontier was idealized, so were cowboys. Once looked down upon, they became seen as self-reliant and strong. These men were used to move cattle and were very successful in getting the cattle sold.

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However as quickly as the cattle market peaked, it just as quickly fell, and ranchers went into debt. Just as there are well known cowboy names, there are many legends that came from the frontier myth such as Wild Bill and Buffalo Bill whom are still represented in current pop culture as well. Americans had such a fondness for the frontier myth because it represented the unknown, meaning they could see it as better or more positive than what they experienced in the east. It represented freedom and possibility. Pioneers or even whole families would venture out into the unknown with their supplies and trek hundreds of miles until they would stop to build their new homes, start crops and go about building and gathering what they needed to live and create their new life on the frontier. Because the myth brought on such expansion as people wanted to move west to experience the freedom, they believed that the west held, the land became more used. Soon the west was just as busy and used up as the east and the people would begin looking for that same escape from the social structures. The conservation movement helped from expansion taking out many of nature’s beauties to preserve them.

Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois were vastly different as described in The Enduring Vision. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery, while W. E. B. du Bois was raised in the North. It is well known in history that Booker T. Washington had more of a sit and wait approach to dealing with the racism that African Americans faced. He believed that if they learned skills and trades that made them useful that it would be noticed, and the racism would go away as other people saw their value. However, W. E. B. Du Bois strongly disagreed with this approach and had a more hands-on approach to trying to change and fight the racism. Du Bois believed in and fought for African Americans to have full equality not just because they were deemed of value to others. He believed that not only should they receive equal education opportunities as other races but that they should stand against any form of racism. Because of Du Bois’ headstrong personality many meetings of the “”Niagara Movement”” would meet, while others began seeing that Booker T. Washington’s laid back and cautious approach was becoming very unrealistic.

In 1909 Du Bois and a few other well-known activists form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was a group meant for activist that were for the legal changes needed for full equality of all African Americans. By 1914, the NAACP had six thousand members across many different branches. As many differences as Washington and Du Bois had, they did also have a couple of similarities. The biggest similarity between the two being that they were both strongly against racially motivated violence such as lynching. Another similarity is that they are two of the most well-known figures in the road to African-American equality. The NAACP and the National Urban League may not have caused any immediate change it did however help in making the African-American communities stronger. Because of these organizations, many communities gained housing, education and healthcare they may not have had before. When it came to the deep ‘secrets’ of racism that many people tried to ignore such as lynching, these eventually made their way to mainstream news making its way across the nation.

As the 20’s came to an end, the stock market crashed, and this launched what is known as the Great Depression. The crash of the stock market triggered financial crisis and a lot of people lost everything. People began losing jobs as they disappeared because spending was declining. Because of this the unemployment rates rose drastically to the millions. On what is known as Black Tuesday, $14 billion was lost bring the total loss to $30 billion. As the stock market crash continued anyone who purchased on credit fell into further debt. As time went on, the daily struggle got worse, the housing market was failing as was other industries such as the automobile and textile industry. Herbert Hoover was President of the United States when the Great Depression began, because of this people were blaming him for the Great Depression, going so far as to name the little areas that the homeless lived in as “”Hoovervilles””.

As the Great Depression went on, people were looking for hope and ways to get out of the ‘hole’ they were in financially. As elections came around, Franklin D. Roosevelt was promising the people that he would be the answer, that he could get them out of the Great Depression. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. Shortly following this around 1933, hundreds of banks started closing. People began to get antsy and stopped trusting the banks so they started withdrawing all of their money from their accounts which caused the crashing of the banks. To add on to the losses, farmers were losing their farms and land because they were falling delinquent on what they owed. By March 4th, 1933, any bank that was still open was forced to close. On March 9th, 1933, Roosevelt’s Emergency Banking Act passed, which reorganized the banks and closed the ones that wouldn’t or couldn’t make it. After the New Deal didn’t end the Great Depression, the Second New Deal was created.

In April, the Works Progress Administration was created to help the large number of unemployed people receive jobs. It created post offices and schools while also providing work opportunities to the arts such as artist and writers. Three months later a board was created to make sure that workers were being treated fairly under the National Labor Relations Act. Roosevelt signed the Social Security act in August which set up unemployment and promised pensions to the people. While Roosevelt tried to do what he could to help end the Great Depression, the New Deal and Second New Deal were not enough to bring the United States back to normal. The Great Depression did not end until the beginning of World War 2. The war helped boost the economy because of the jobs it created in order to provide everything needed to assist in the war. In the end, this put people back to work, filling factory jobs around the country, because of this people had money to spend again and the economy slowly went back to normal.


The Debate Between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington

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