Media bias can cause irreparable damage.
Such has been the case with media reporting on extremism and how it is linked with Islam. In the same way that no religion has monopoly over good, extremism has no boundaries and can be found in one form or another, in any group of people.
An entire community of Rohingya Muslims were terrorised out of Myanmar. The atrocities were so great in Myanmar that the United Nations said these crimes could amount to genocide. Nevertheless, the Western media’s reporting on this barbarism was inadequate to say the least.
Mass shootings in America have become so common that the news does not surprise anymore. Is that not extremism? If so, why don’t we identify the perpetrators by their faith?
Lack of media reporting is also evident when it comes to reporting on persecution of Uyghur Muslims by Chinese authorities. Unlike attacks by so-called Muslim extremists, the faith of these extremist authorities is never highlighted.
Of course, there are acts of extremism carried out by people who happen to identify themselves as Muslim. However, when it comes to media reporting on such incidents, there appears to be something not right. A University of Alabama study revealed that terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims (1). The same study also revealed that terrorist attacks committed by non-Muslims (or where the religion was unknown) received an average of 15 headlines, while those committed by Muslim extremists received 105 headlines. English poet William Blake sums it up very well for me that ‘a truth that is told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent’.
I am lost for words when it comes to media reporting on the Iraq war and the ensuing crises that continues to this day. Terrorism in Iraq is unjustly linked with Islam. Let’s tell the world that Daesh did not exist before the unjustified invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies. The United Kingdom’s Chilcot report (2) concluded about this great injustice: “the policy on the Iraq invasion was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments. It was not challenged and should have been.”
Where on earth was the Western media?
The invasion of Iraq destroyed a country and made it a breeding ground for terrorists. The least western newspapers could have done was to print the Chilcot report on their front pages, or to put simply, at least not blame Islam for the terrorism that has ensued from that part of the world.
If there was ever any doubt that Daesh extremists represent Islam, it becomes clear when one considers that the vast majority of the victims of terrorism are in fact Muslim. However, the Western media never shows us this side of the picture.
Let me mention just one incident where innocent kids were slaughtered in Peshawar’s Army Public School in Pakistan. One hundred and thirty-two students were mercilessly killed and it was the world’s fourth deadliest school massacre (3).
Why wasn’t it front-page news for days?
Those little angels martyred on that day preached and practiced Islam. They lived Islam on a daily basis. Associating their murderers with Islam would be a grave injustice. God forbid if such an incident had been carried out by the Taliban in a western country, the media would have associated it with Islam.
Such bias leads to unnecessary anxiety about Islam.