International and regional politics, economics, and social development has recently been adversely affected the relationship between the Islamic and Western and European societies strongly and manifold. Globally, unsettling changes are being witnessed (Mesic, n.d.). Both Muslims and Non-Muslims are terror and violence victims often perpetuated by individuals pretentiously in Islam’s name (Mesic, n.d.). Consequently, there is growing misunderstanding between both factions despite the levels of sophistication of the current systems of information and means of communication (Mesic, n.d.). While all this is happening, it is the Islamic faction that bears most of the brunt, especially from the media in the Western world. Events in the new that are selected for reporting from the numerous issues and events occurring as current affairs and how they are reported fundamentally influence the readers (Alghamdi, 2015). Fowler (1991) indicated that intrinsically, real events are not newsworthy; however, they make and become news after selection and inclusion in news reports. Therefore, the selected events only provide partial information of what exactly is happening in the world (Alghamdi, 2015). Consequently, selecting or neglecting certain events and the manner of presentation of the selected events as elements that can be employed for bias within the media.
Islam and Western Media
On 7th April 2010, US president Barack Obama required his advisors to eliminate any religious terms that may portray religious prejudice from the document that outlines the national security strategy for the US. These terms are, for example, “Jihad” and “Islamic terrorism and/or extremism” (Fox News Network, 2010). This action best describes the government’s understanding of the misconception and irrationality contained in such terms as commonly attributed to all Muslims in the western world. The fundamental role of the media in Western and European nations is accountable for the prejudice and irrationality including the creation of a spoilt picture of Islam and Muslims not only among individuals in those regions alone but also globally (Alghamdi, 2015).
In the media, Islam and Muslims are presented as the brainchild and breeders of violence, terrorism, and global threat. As a result, they are most of the time held responsible for terrorist attacks globally. For instance, the terrorist attack in Oklahoma, the Canadian and American media speculated concern and blamed Muslims for the murder of innocent civilians. This claim, later on, turned out to be false as two fundamentalist Christian were arrested and convicted of the crime (Alghamdi, 2015). Many especially American Muslims were victimized through the malicious propaganda generated by the media houses (Alghamdi, 2015). Another example is the coverage of the terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway where media houses in the west speculated an Islamic connection while others directly and vehemently accused Muslims and Islamic organizations of the attack (BBC, 2011). This was done by the media without the provision of any evidence to prove their strong accusations. Later after investigations, it was found out that Anders Behring Breivik a Norwegian aged 32 years old was the perpetrator and had murdered over 85 civilians and injured much more (BBC, 2011). This anti-Muslim representation in the western media is responsible for inciting people to engage in violent crimes, offenses, and attacks against Muslims in the western countries and also motivated some Muslims to propagate the same (Alghamdi, 2015). However, these institutions are ignorant of this fact and seem not to have learned this lesson.
The State Muslim Immigration and Refugees
There has increased immigration to the developed nations over the last two decades with the main destinations for immigrants being the western and European countries. This has transformed these Western and European nations of immigration into countries of immigration (Kosho, 2016). A Recent survey indicates that most respondents perceive the number of immigrants in their nations is too high and that fewer immigrants should be allowed into their countries through tighter legal restrictions of immigrations. For example in Britain, the British Social Attitudes survey revealed that most of its populations endorsed a reduction in immigration. The results indicated that 56% of those surveyed wanted it to be reduced a lot while 77% selected either reduced a lot or a little. Moreover, in the entire European Union (EU) as initially composed four (4) out of ten (10) of the members suggested that the policies on immigrations should be changed and made more restrictive. These sentiments are held even more strongly in countries such as Greece (56%) and Italy (57%) (Kosho, 2016).
Figure 1: Views on Immigrants in Selected European Countries and the United States
Source: (Pew Research Centre, 2015).
Immigration to Europe and other western nation has significantly increased in since mid-20th Century. Most of the migration has been mainly to Europe and Western nations. From the 1960s there has been an increase in the percentage of Muslims immigrating to these regions and this has sparked debate about their immigration and integration policies (Wilhide, 2015). There has been also an increase in the number of asylees and refugees fleeing from war-torn countries and nations that have unstable political regimes. These are, for example, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Many of these refugees use immigration routes that are undocumented seeking work and safety in these countries.
Figure 2: Countries where most Muslim Immigrants and Refugees go to.
Source: (BBC, 2014).
Figure 3: Origin of most Muslim immigrants and refugees
Figure 4: Projected growth of Muslims in the US as a result of immigration and refugees
Source: (Pew Research Centre, 2016).
Muslim Immigrants and Refugees and Western Media
While the rules and perceptions of immigrants and refugees are slowly changing, negative perceptions are still held in the western and European regions. The main focus of the media is on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism (Schønemann, 2013). The media portrays all Muslims including immigrants and refugees as being potential criminals, oppressors, alien, and different from the rest of the groups. They are depicted as a threat to the values and freedoms of the people in their nations and this is especially after the 9/11 attacks and the Arab Spring. This threat they tie to Islam’s parochialism and fundamentalism (Schønemann, 2013). This is ascertained in the study by Julie Schønemann (2013) she highlights the responses of Muslim Americans by pollsters who asked their views on the media in 2001. Two-thirds of them indicated that mainstream media portrayed Muslims and Islam unfairly (Schønemann, 2013). Later in 2003 the number hard increased to three-quarters of the respondents indicating unfair reporting of Muslims and Islam (Schønemann, 2013). This generates a feeling of insecurity and being under threat among the populace of the destination countries and the majority groups within those nations.
Image 1: Media Image of how they depict Muslims.
Source: (BBC, 2011).
Problems caused by Muslim Immigrants and Refugees
While the media is biased on its reports on Muslim Immigrants and Refugees and the problems they cause, this is to some extent true as some countries in Europe feel that the Muslim population is the perpetrator of most crimes in their countries and/or region. For instance, in Sweden, young Islamic asylum seekers have converted their swimming pools into ordeals of rape and sexual harassment and assault and more swedes are avoiding swimming pools (Hohmann, 2016). Before trials on the strategy of multicultural immigration in Sweden back in 1975, the country was considered among the safest. However, today, the country together with Denmark have the highest rates of sexual assault in the EU based on data between 2012 and 2014 analyzed in the study by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (EAFR) published in 2014 (Hohmann, 2016).
Figure 5: Statistics on Sexual Prevalence in the EU.
Source: (Hohmann, 2016).
Moreover, another recent survey among women in Sweden indicated that 46% of them feel to some level unsafe when alone in the dark and this is in comparison to 20% of the men. These women indicated that they were scared of the Muslim invaders with one of the country’s activities reporting that the country was doing nothing about the problem by allowing more of them to the country (Hohmann, 2016). The activist Pamela Geller stated that Europe was committing suicide before their eyes by allowing these immigrants and refugees into the country. The most recently reported crime was that reported by WND of the attack against Nathalie Hager outside her Church by Arab-speaking Muslim men.
Image 2: Image of Nathalie Hager (29) after her Brutal Attack by Muslim Men
Source: (Hohmann, 2016)
In another report contained in the Front Page Magazine, statistics from the Federal Criminal Police zemstva Germany, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of crimes caused by asylum seekers in the country. This is attributed by the reports is due to an increased number of Muslim immigrants (Greenfield, 2015). The country in 2013 registered 32,495 crimes and by 2015 they had increased to 53,890 with a sharp rise in thefts and attacks resulting in injuries. Finally, the refugees and immigrants have also been found to be involved in scandals to reap off the government. For instance, in Finland, a so-called Syrian refugee by the name Fahad Firas claimed to be a 17-year-old refugee seeking asylum and even lied to the nation’s Prime Minister (PM) only to be discovered to be a body builder and retired soldier.
Crimes and Issues Caused by other Groups
According to statistics, Muslims do not form the major part of immigrants and refugees in Europe and the Western world and these other groups are also responsible for crimes and problems in the regions. These “alternate groups” from the other religions have also perpetuated crimes that have not been the key focus of the media. For instance, the Red Brigades who terrorized Italy for a long period through political sabotages, murders, and kidnappings that instilled fear among Italians especially those in metropolitan centers (ADST, 2016). This was due to political extremism in the group. Another example is the story that was not given much publicity Jim D. Adkisson (a Christian fundamentalist) killed two people in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with a shotgun only because he hated the liberalist movement (Moore, 2011). He was charged and only convicted of murder and not terrorism if it was the case of a Muslim (Moore, 2011). These are just but a few examples of how other groups contribute to crime and terrorism but receive minimal attention from the media. In fact, according to statistics, most terrorist attacks in the European and western countries are perpetrated by these other groups as depicted in the figure below an aspect that is commonly ignored by the media.
Figure 6: Religious Composition of Immigrants in the EU
(Pew Research Centre, 2015)
Figure 7: Perpetrators of Terrorist Attacks in the US.
Source: (Washington’s Blog, 2016)
Therefore, from the above discussion and data, it is evident that Muslims, including the Muslim Immigrants and Refugees, are not the only terrorists and perpetrators of crime in the Western and European nations. As a matter of factor, they are the minority group involved. For instance, in the United States as presented above non-Muslims account for 90% of all the terrorist attacks in the country (Washington’s Blog, 2016). However, because most European and Western nations use the media to brand their images they make efforts to paint a good picture of their nations and the majority of its people, they blame minority groups and in this case immigrant and refugee Muslims. Moreover, since Islam has strong moral foundations that most Muslims strongly adhere to without comprise, this appears as a threat to the liberal approach these regions have to their religion. To eliminate this perceived threat, they blame Muslims and the refugees and immigrants through the media for their troubles so as to gain global support.
ADST. (2016). Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History: “Years of Lead” — Domestic Terrorism and Italy’s Red Brigades. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from ADST Web site: http://adst.org/2016/03/years-of-lead-domestic-terrorism-and-italys-red-brigades/
Alghamdi, E. A. (2015, May). The Representation of Islam in Western Media: The coverage of Norway terrorist attacks. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 4(3), 198-204.
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BBC. (2014, September 30). Graphics: Europe’s asylum seekers. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from BBC Website: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-24636868
Fowler, R. (1991). Language in the News: Discourse and ideology in the press. London: Routledge.
Fox News Network. (2010, April 7). Obama Bans Islam, Jihad From National Security Strategy Document. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Fox News Network Web site: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/07/obama-bans-islam-jihad-national-security-strategy-document..html
Greenfield, D. (2015, October 8). Muslim Migrants Increase Crime in Germany by 65%. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Front Page Magazine Website: https://www.frontpagemag.com/point/260393/muslim-migrants-increase-crime-germany-65-daniel-greenfield
Hohmann, L. (2016, July 3). Swedish Rape Crisis Boils Over as Media Stay Silent. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from WND Website: http://www.wnd.com/2016/03/swedish-rape-crisis-boils-over-as-media-stays-silent/
Kosho, J. (2016, May 5). Media Influence on Public Opinion Attitudes Toward the Migration Crisis. International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research, 5(5), 86-91.
Mesic, M. (n.d.). The Perception of Islam and Muslims in the Media and the Responsibility of European Muslims Towards the Media. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Culture Link Website: http://www.culturelink.org/conf/dialogue/mesic.pdf
Moore, S. (2011, May 25). Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Huffington Post Web site: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannyn-moore/christian-fundamentalist_b_209521.html
Pew Research Centre. (2016, January 5). A New Estimate of the U.S. Muslim Population. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Pew Research Centre Website: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/ft_16-01-05_numbermuslims/
Pew Research Centre. (2015, September 22). What Americans, Europeans Think of Immigration. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Pew Research Centre Website: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/09/24/what-americans-europeans-think-of-immigrants/ft_09-24-15_europeimmigrants/
Schønemann, J. (2013). The Stereotyping of Muslims: An analysis of The New York Times’ and The Washington Times’ coverage of Veiling and the Muhammad cartoon controversy. The university of Oslo, Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages. Oslo: University of Oslo.
Washington’s Blog. (2016, June 13). Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from Global Research Website: http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619
Wilhide, A. (2015, June 17). Muslim Migration to Europe. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from University of Minnesota Web site: https://cla.umn.edu/ihrc/news-events/other/muslim-migration-europe