Paper Example on Muslims: Victims of Terrorist Stigma in a Post-9/11 World

Published: 2023-07-29
Paper Example on Muslims: Victims of Terrorist Stigma in a Post-9/11 World
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Islam Terrorism
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1918 words
16 min read


The term terrorism has become a nightmare to any Muslim in the world today. A lot of negative publicity and unfortunate events have contributed to this situation. The rise of the Islamic terror groups in different parts of the world especially the East has significantly contributed to the negative publicity that surrounds the Islamic religion. Militant groups such as the Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al Shabaab have been responsible for some of the worst terror attacks in the world including the 9/11 bombing in the US. However, one of the most intriguing factors about these attacks by extremists is the association with the Jihad war that is rooted in the Muslim Faith. The repercussions of these extremists' attacks are negative publicity to the Islamic religion. This unfortunate turn of events affects many innocent believers of the religion in different ways. For instance, a man wearing Islamic attire draws more attention from security personnel. Also, any crimes such as murder, or attempted homicide by a Muslim can easily be perceived as a terrorist attack. A Muslim criminal may fail to get a fair judgment provided the investigator and prosecutor bring up the terrorism debate. These misconceptions that have also been fueled by the media have a detrimental effect on Muslims all over the world. This essay will reveal how Muslim criminals are treated harshly due to misconceptions that associate them with extremists and terrorists.

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Connection Between Terrorism and Islam

Connections have always been established between terrorism and the Islamic religion because most extremist groups can be traced to this one religion. One of the major reasons for societies around the world to develop such conclusions is the terror attacks around the world that have been linked to members of the Muslim religion. Furthermore, these conclusions are not mere assumptions because adequate evidence exists to link major terror attacks to extremist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram among others. According to Wright (2016), terrorism became a major concern after the US suffered one of the worst attacks in its history. The 9/11 attack that occurred in 2001 marked the surge of terror attacks that were masterminded by Osama Bin Laden after declaring war against the US. Osama was not only a Muslim leader of a terror militia but also a Muslim. Osama was later executed during Obama's administration.

It was not only Osama that has been linked to terror attacks because other leaders of Arab countries have been accused of either funding or sympathizing with terrorists. Sadam Hussein, who was a former leader in Iraq was accused, arrested, and executed in the US for having engaged with terrorists in one way or another. It should be noted that Sadam was also a Muslim. The killing of Muamar Gadaffi, who was a Libyan head of state was also linked to terrorism. It is also clear that Muammar Gadaffi belonged to the Islamic religion. All these leaders that have been targeted, arrested or executed by the US and other countries of the West are not only linked to extremist groups but also the Islamic religion. While some leaders have been accused of funding the terror groups and activities, others have been linked with harboring some of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

According to Chaudhry (2016), this biased approach of making conclusions about violence does not only stem from the unfortunate events of 9/11. The polarization can be traced to previous discourse that focused on anti-Islamic orientation by the West. Chaudhry (2016) accuses the West of always trying to prove that their cultures, traditions, and religion are superior to that of the East. This is the foundation of religious politics that is often used to tie terrorism to Islam. However, the media escalates the debate to another level.

Violence versus Terrorism

One of the most fundamental questions today is the difference between violence and terrorism. It is essential to establish the actual parameters that make one form of violence to be considered as a normal crime and another to be categorized as terrorism. Chaudhry (2016), argues that this difference between the two terms is political. A lot of politics has played to ensure that certain forms of violence are considered to be crimes while others are terror activities. The use of violence is used to denote neutrality while terrorism is a political charge. Therefore, violence can only be used for a politically correct actor while terrorism is preferred by politically incorrect actors. In this case, religion-based politics is the basis for presenting such judgment. Therefore, a Muslim criminal in the US is considered to be politically incorrect. It implies that the Muslims are significantly exempted from the general rule of the thumb where acts of violence are treated as criminal offenses for the case of non-muslims (Chaudhry, 2016). In the case of a Muslim, any legal approach after an act of violence is often referred to as fighting against terrorism.

Various examples can be provided to prove that the term terrorism is a political debate that targets a specific religion as well as region. While reporting some of the mass shootings in the US, journalists and politicians use many other terms to describe a non-muslim perpetrator. For instance, an offender can be termed as a mentally unstable person or drug addict. On the other hand, the attack by a Muslim offender qualifies to be termed as an act of terrors. These differences in description exist even in situations where the nature of crime or violence of a non-muslim and a Muslims is similar

Mannan and Shamir (2017) concur with the fact that Western media deliberately promotes Islamophobia through varied interpretations of violence. These two authors argue that the label of terrorism is only unleashed for Muslim attackers. Mannan and Shamir (2017) expose the fact that over thirty thousand instances of school shootings and gun violence had been reported in America before the 9/11 attack. However, none of these cases ever qualified to be considered as acts of terrorism unless the perpetrators were Muslims. Mannan and Shamir (2017) claim that 90 percent of all the crimes that befit the definition of terror that have been committed in the US can directly be linked to non-Islamic actors. The 90 percent was never highlighted and given much media attention as compared to the few crimes that were committed by Muslim actors.

Islamophobia and Role of the Media

Islamophobia can be described as the fear of the Islamic religion. Even though the origin of this fear can be attributed to the involvement of Islamic extremists, different types of media have contributed to this issue. The media has played a crucial role in ensuring that negative perception about the Muslim religion is created and broadcasted to as many people as possible. New reporters, movie directors, and novelists have all played a vital part in propagating Islamophobia in society.

A news article posted on the CNN website revealed that an American-born man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS had shot 49 people on a Sunday. Ellis et al. (2016) present two different claims by the police officers and the wife of the perpetrator, Mateen. According to the Orlando police chief, the attack was a well-organized event and Mateen was adequately armed. The police considered the shooting incident by Mateen as an act of hate linked to Jihadi forums while the ISIS supporters associated the attack on pro-Islamic forums. President Obama was also quoted linking Mateen's actions to terrorism. Mateen's wife provides another side of the story claiming that her husband was mentally ill. According to the wife, Mateen's was bipolar and had been a user of steroids. Mateen's wife also claimed that she doesn't believe Mateen's actions were fueled by religion. The statement by Mateen's wife could not see the light because of the position that the US and the media are quick to take whenever such events occur. For instance, according to Ellis et al. (2016), President Obama said, 'we know enough to say that this was an act of terror. It implies that the president's conclusion at that time was political. The CNN news article proceeds to show how Mateen was born in Afghanistan. The article intentionally sways a reader to believe that the attack was an act of terror.

Another news article also reported a mass shooting incident in Las Vegas where the actor was a non-Muslim. According to Yan et al. (2017), Stephen Paddock, the actor in this shooting, is referred to as a gunman. The article also elaborates that nobody understands how Paddock changed from a retired accountant to a mass shooter. The police believed that the perpetrator acted alone which makes it challenging to unravel the motive of the shooting. In this case, President Trump congratulated the police officers for their quick response to neutralize the shooter. Furthermore, the new article proceeds to declare that Paddock's attack has no links to Islamic extremism and terrorism.

The two articles by Ellis et al. (2016) and Yan et al. (2017) shows how the media plays a fundamental role in fueling the political tone of terrorism. Whenever a Muslim is involved, the reporters dig deeper to reveal any past linked to terror groups in the East. Elis et al. (2016) perfectly maintained the tonne that an armed Islam attacker is a terrorist regardless of their mental conditions. Even though Mateen's wife claimed that her husband was bipolar, this information becomes irrelevant once the media highlights the religion and political correctness of the actor as seen in the story posted by Yan et al. (2017). It evident that the two incidents are almost related. It can be argued that Paddock was more prepared and armed compared to Mateen. However, the news articles pointed the spotlight on the impact of religious differences in the definition of terrorism.

Islamophobia in the media outlets including news headlines and newspapers often associate acts of terrorism to Islam unless the actor is proven to be a non-Muslim. Islamophobia can be defined as an unfounded hostility, fear, and prejudice against people of the Islamic religion. According to Mohammed (2018), the media has always played a key role in linking Muslims and Islam to extremism violence. It is claimed that the Western media often aims to represent Muslims of the East as enemies and threats of the West. The Western media also has a hand in fighting Muslim by making their audience to believe that Islam is a threat to liberalism and mainstream values (Mohammed, 2018). According to Mohammed (2018), most of the British media outlets between 1994 and 200 demonized and misrepresented all the threats to the West including the Muslim religion. The negative framing of the Muslim was also discovered in a recent study that was conducted between 2000 and 2015 (Mohammed, 2018). The undesirable publicity that brands Muslim as violent and intolerant.

In 2016, it was alleged that the Pentagon paid a UK-based public relations firm to release fake videos involving the Al Qaeda attack during the war in Iraq (Mannan & Shamir, 2017). Mannan and Shamir (2017) reveal that a staggering amount of $540 million was paid to influence the portrayal of Muslims by the media. All the films that were uploaded had been acted by non-muslims who dressed in Islamic attire. The channel used to share the misleading videos managed to reach many viewers across the world. A controversial statement that was also echoed by Brians Kilmeade, a Fox News commentator, stated that 'all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims'.

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