Special Issue "Anti Muslim Racism and the Media"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 August 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Idrisa Pandit

Director of Studies in Islam, Renison University College, University of Waterloo, 240 Westmount Road North Waterloo, ON N2L 3G4, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: inter-religious dialogue; Islam and Muslims in the West; women in Islam; Kashmir conflict; faith based approaches to ending domestic violence and cultural and spiritually sensitive counselling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism is a reality in the twenty first century just as it has been in the past. While Runnymede report of 1997 first introduced the term Islamophobia, Edward Said had already sensitized the world to the “othering “of Arabs and Muslims in his seminal work, Orientalism (1978). And, in Covering Islam (1981), Said questioned the objectivity of the western media in covering Islam and Muslims. Since then, we have had other studies that have documented this phenomenon (Kumar, 2012; Shaheen, 2001) and many reports (FAIR, 2008, Centre for American Progress, 2011&2015) that illustrate that with time there has really been no change in this trend of anti-Muslim racism in the media. In fact, the misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims has become even more prevalent and complex. Geo political events such as the Iranian revolution, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and tragic events of September 11th. 2011, did not create the image of the “Muslim other,” but these events were key in exacerbating the negative stereotyping of Muslims in the media.

Given the recent rise in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in North America and Europe, the media- print and online- especially social media, is critical in shaping public opinion and whipping up fear of Muslims. What often gets overlooked is the impact negative representation of Muslims and Islam in the media has on lives of ordinary Muslims, especially Muslims living in the West. Rise in hate crimes and hate incidents against Muslims, targeted attacks on their places of worship, and attacks on their way of life, contributes to general sense of unsafety and lack of belonging for western Muslims. Muslims as bad, mad, angry, uncivilized, irrational, dangerous, and more recently, a security threat, is an image that is embedded in most media misrepresentation and mischaracterization of Islam and Muslims. Islam as the religion of “violence”, and Muslims as the monolithic “other” is used by many politicians and hate mongers alike to create prejudice and fear. As anti-Muslim sentiment grows, it is clear that media coverage of Islam has a large part to play in building increased feelings of suspicion, insecurity and anxiety among non-Muslims, and alienation among Muslims.

As some recent research studies have noted (Ahmed &Matthes, 2016), most of the research on media and Islam is based in the West. Not much attention has been paid to the media in Muslim majority countries, or countries with significant Muslim populations. In this volume we hope to bridge that gap and solicit submissions from scholars around the world. It is also important to know what the Muslims themselves say about representation of Islam and Muslims, and the impact negative media coverage has on their lives, especially lives of visible Muslim women. Some of the issues that this volume will address will include media promotion of gendered Islamophobia, Arab Spring and the media, media and Muslim minorities in the East, and a comparative study of good media stories humanizing and representing lives of ordinary Muslims versus overwhelming negative portrayal of Muslims in the media, and comparative studies of media representation in Europe and North America.

Prof. Dr. Idrisa Pandit
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Islam
  • media portrayals
  • media representation
  • Muslims
  • Islamophobia
  • media impact
  • anti-Muslim racism

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Are Unidentified Terrorist Suspects Always Muslims? How Terrorism News Shape News Consumers’ Automatic Activation of Muslims as Perpetrators
Religions 2018, 9(10), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9100286
Received: 7 September 2018 / Revised: 17 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 20 September 2018
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Abstract
Two experimental studies investigated how news reports about terrorist attacks committed by unidentified perpetrators influence beliefs about the perpetrators and Muslims in general. In Study 1, a quota-based sample of 354 Germans was exposed to terror news coverage describing either non-Muslim or Muslim
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Two experimental studies investigated how news reports about terrorist attacks committed by unidentified perpetrators influence beliefs about the perpetrators and Muslims in general. In Study 1, a quota-based sample of 354 Germans was exposed to terror news coverage describing either non-Muslim or Muslim victims with no reference to the perpetrators of the attacks. Upon stimulus exposure, participants were asked the likelihood that the perpetrators were either Islamist extremists, far-right extremists, or lone operators. In Study 2, no information about the victims was provided, but the perpetrators were either Muslims or unidentified. In addition, we measured news consumers’ Islamophobic attitudes in both studies. Results from Study 1 revealed that participants attributed perpetrator-unidentified attacks to Islamist perpetrators when the victims were non-Muslims. In contrast, terrorist attacks directed against Muslim victims were more likely to be attributed to far-right extremists. Additionally, Study 2 revealed that news consumers associated perpetrator-unidentified terrorist attacks with Islamist extremists to an equal degree as terrorist attacks that were committed by Muslim perpetrators. Attributing the attack to Islamists was in turn significantly related to Islamophobic attitudes in both studies. Implications of these findings for journalism practice and society at large are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
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Open AccessArticle Who Is the Muslim? Discursive Representations of the Muslims and Islam in Indian Prime-Time News
Religions 2018, 9(9), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090283
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 16 September 2018 / Accepted: 18 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
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Abstract
A cursory look at Indian prime-time news tells us much about the tone and tenor of the people associated with it. Exaggerations, hyperbole, and tempers run wild, and news anchors flail in theatrical rage. News channels and news editors display their ideological affiliations
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A cursory look at Indian prime-time news tells us much about the tone and tenor of the people associated with it. Exaggerations, hyperbole, and tempers run wild, and news anchors flail in theatrical rage. News channels and news editors display their ideological affiliations subliminally. These affiliations—a factor of personal political stances, funding bodies, and investors—lead to partisan bias in the framing of news and, in some cases, can easily translate into racial prejudice. In this paper, I examine news coverage related to Muslims in India. I study the coverage of two issues specifically—love jihad and triple talaq—in prime-time English news of two channels: Times Now and Republic TV. Love jihad is a term used to describe alleged campaigns carried out by Muslim men targeting non-Muslim women for conversion to Islam by feigning love. Triple talaq is a form of divorce that has been interpreted to allow Muslim men to legally divorce their wives by stating the word “talaq” three times. My analysis of the content, tone, and tenor of their coverage shows that these channels propagate associations between Islam and backwardness, ignorance, and violence through consistent employment of the following tropes: “Muslim women need to be saved from Muslim men”; “Hindu women need to be saved from Muslim men”; and, “Muslims are not fully Indian—they are anti-national”. I place this study of news media within the current political climate in India and briefly touch on the conversations it guides and provokes. This is a first step in detailing a problem. It is also a call for further analysis on this subject to examine and evaluate if and how discourse manipulates public conversations and policy decisions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
Open AccessArticle Islamophobia, “Clash of Civilizations”, and Forging a Post-Cold War Order!
Religions 2018, 9(9), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090282
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
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Abstract
Islamophobia, as a problem, is often argued to be a rational choice by the stereotypical media coverage of Islam and Muslims, even though it points to the symptom rather than the root cause. Islamophobia reemerges in public discourses and part of state policies
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Islamophobia, as a problem, is often argued to be a rational choice by the stereotypical media coverage of Islam and Muslims, even though it points to the symptom rather than the root cause. Islamophobia reemerges in public discourses and part of state policies in the post-Cold War period and builds upon latent Islamophobia that is sustained in the long history of Orientalist and stereotypical representation of Arabs, Muslims, and Islam itself. The book What is Islamophobia? Racism, Social Movements and the State, edited by Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills, and David Miller offers a unique contribution to how best to define and locate the problem of demonizing Islam and Muslims in the contemporary period. The three scholars provide a more critical and structural approach to the subject by offering what they call the “five pillars of Islamophobia”, which are the following: (1) the institutions and machinery of the state; (2) the far-right, incorporating the counter-jihad movement; (3) the neoconservative movement; (4) the transnational Zionist movement; and (5) the assorted liberal groupings including the pro-war left and the new atheist movement. The UK-based research group correctly situates Islamophobia within existing power structures and examines the forces that consciously produce anti-Muslim discourses, the Islamophobia industry, within a broad political agenda rather than the singular focus on the media. Islamophobia emerges from the “Clash of Civilizations” ideological warriors and not merely as a problem of media stereotyping, representation, and over-emphasis on the Muslim subject. In this article, I maintain that Islamophobia is an ideological construct that emerges in the post-Cold War era with the intent to rally the Western world and the American society at a moment of perceived fragmentation after the collapse of the Soviet Union in a vastly and rapidly changing world system. Islamophobia, or the threat of Islam, is the ingredient, as postulated in Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis that is needed to affirm the Western self-identify after the end of the Cold War and a lack of a singular threat or purpose through which to define, unify, and claim the future for the West. Thus, Islamophobia is the post-Cold War ideology to bring about a renewed purpose and crafting of the Western and American self. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
Open AccessArticle Framing Muslims in the “War on Terror”: Representations of Ideological Violence by Muslim versus Non-Muslim Perpetrators in Canadian National News Media
Religions 2018, 9(9), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090274
Received: 9 August 2018 / Revised: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 12 September 2018
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Abstract
This study compared representations of ideological violence by Muslim versus non-Muslim perpetrators in Canadian national news media (the Globe and Mail, National Post, and CBC). Both quantitative and qualitative disparities were examined. Acts of Muslim violence received 1.5 times more coverage, on average,
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This study compared representations of ideological violence by Muslim versus non-Muslim perpetrators in Canadian national news media (the Globe and Mail, National Post, and CBC). Both quantitative and qualitative disparities were examined. Acts of Muslim violence received 1.5 times more coverage, on average, than non-Muslim ones, and thwarted Muslim plots received five times more coverage. Muslim incidents were more likely to be labelled “terrorism” and linked to other episodes of violence, and Muslim perpetrators were more likely to be labelled by their religious and ethno-racial identities. These patterns in representation serve to stabilise the racial formations of the Canadian national security state in the “war on terror”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
Open AccessArticle Framing Islam/Creating Fear: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of Terrorism from 2011–2016
Religions 2018, 9(9), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090257
Received: 17 July 2018 / Revised: 18 August 2018 / Accepted: 26 August 2018 / Published: 28 August 2018
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Abstract
Powell’s 2011 study of media coverage of 11 post-9/11 terrorist events argued that a thematic framing exists which results in a model of media coverage of terrorism that is different for acts of terror committed by Muslims than by non-Muslims. This pattern connects
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Powell’s 2011 study of media coverage of 11 post-9/11 terrorist events argued that a thematic framing exists which results in a model of media coverage of terrorism that is different for acts of terror committed by Muslims than by non-Muslims. This pattern connects terrorism to Islam, thus creating a fear of the “other” and aids terrorists in achieving their goal of creating a climate of fear. This study examines the 11 terrorist events since the last study, between 2011 and 2016, to determine if any changes in media coverage of terrorism have occurred in a climate of increased awareness of Islamophobia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
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Open AccessArticle Media Coverage of Muslim Devotion: A Four-Country Analysis of Newspaper Articles, 1996–2016
Religions 2018, 9(8), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080247
Received: 18 July 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
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Abstract
Scholars have identified Muslims’ religiosity and faith practices, often believed to be more intense than those of other religious groups, as a point of friction in liberal democracies. We use computer-assisted methods of lexical sentiment analysis and collocation analysis to assess more than
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Scholars have identified Muslims’ religiosity and faith practices, often believed to be more intense than those of other religious groups, as a point of friction in liberal democracies. We use computer-assisted methods of lexical sentiment analysis and collocation analysis to assess more than 800,000 articles between 1996 and 2016 in a range of British, American, Canadian, and Australian newspapers. We couple this approach with human coding of 100 randomly selected articles to investigate the tone of devotion-related themes when linked to Islam and Muslims. We show that articles touching on devotion are not as negative as articles about other aspects of Islam—and indeed that they are not negative at all, on average, when focused on a key subset of devotion-related articles. We thus offer a new perspective on the perception of Islamic religiosity in Western societies. Our findings also suggest that if newspapers strive to provide a more balanced portrayal of Muslims and Islam within their pages, they may seek opportunities to include more frequent mentions of Muslim devotion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
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Open AccessArticle Fighting Rage with Fear: The “Faces of Muhammad” and the Limits of Secular Rationality
Religions 2018, 9(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9030089
Received: 25 January 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 15 March 2018 / Published: 20 March 2018
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Abstract
In recent years, a number of incidents have pitted Islam against secularism and liberal democracy. This essay examines the Danish publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in order to examine the deployment of rationality as a litmus test for political membership. It argues
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In recent years, a number of incidents have pitted Islam against secularism and liberal democracy. This essay examines the Danish publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in order to examine the deployment of rationality as a litmus test for political membership. It argues that Western media and political analysis of the protests surrounding the cartoons constructed Muslims as anti-rational and thus unfit for democratic citizenship. Such a deployment of rationality inhibits the possibility of and demands for political pluralism. The essay then looks to two disparate theorists of affective reason, Abdulkarim Soroush and William Connolly, to offer an alternative model of reason that encourages pluralist political engagement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)

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Open AccessCommentary Soft Islamophobia
Religions 2018, 9(9), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090280
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 7 September 2018 / Accepted: 12 September 2018 / Published: 15 September 2018
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Abstract
This article explores Islamophobia as a system of oppression by examining policies and practices found in liberal or left-leaning “anti-Islamophobia” spaces in the United States that limit the efficacy of the fight for justice. These include the reification of “Muslim” as a cultural
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This article explores Islamophobia as a system of oppression by examining policies and practices found in liberal or left-leaning “anti-Islamophobia” spaces in the United States that limit the efficacy of the fight for justice. These include the reification of “Muslim” as a cultural category of brown foreigners, the lack of structural analysis around anti-Muslim hate, and the discomfort with and erasure of Islam as a faith in favor of “cultural” Muslims. The article then briefly proposes alternate ways forward that center the Muslims most affected by the intersections of race, class, gender, and religion in work against Islamophobia so that advocates can more effectively and directly address a system of Islamophobia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti Muslim Racism and the Media)
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