Media blamed for promoting Islamophobia

Updated 16 May 2013

Media blamed for promoting Islamophobia

The media plays a strong role in promoting Islamophobia in the world, according to Nathan Lean, editor-in-chief, Aslan Media and a researcher at Georgetown University. Lean made this remark while participating in a panel discussion at Arab Media Forum on “Islamophobia: Is the media doing enough to reverse perceptions?”
The session discussed how to bridge the knowledge gap between the Middle East and the West. It also discussed the role of social media and its impact on the Arab Spring and solutions in Syria and other parts of the region. A person of Middle Eastern origin traveling to the West is perceived to be a ‘terrorist,’ unless proven otherwise, media experts pointed out. However, a lot of this is due mostly to ignorance in the West and partly due to Muslim involvement in certain incidents.
“There are two aspects of this – Islamophobia and Islamo-ignorance,” said Lean.
“When the bombing occurred last month at the Boston marathon, even the mainstream media including CNN, CNBC and ABC started to stereotype the origin of those involved in the incident, initially suggesting some ‘non-American’ people with ‘dark skin’ were behind this. Some suggested they were of Middle Eastern origin,” he added.
“News media are corporate ventures, and to retain their viewership, they want to sensationalize live, breaking events. You will not hear a TV anchor tell you that we will come back when we have more concrete details. They continue to narrate and try to sensationalize to retain the viewership,” he added.
About 60 percent of the Americans had favorable views about Islam in around the time Sept. 11 happened.
“However, by 2011, 60 percent of the Americans had unfavorable views about Muslims and Islam. In 10 years, the media had changed this. So, media plays a strong role in reshaping public perception on Islam,” Lean said.
He said, channels such as Fox News are Islamophobic as they run an agenda. “But I must say, the media plays a strong role in promoting Islamophobia,” he said.
Abdulaziz Al Twaijiri, director general, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), said Islamophobia is an age-old phenomenon. “It has resurfaced in the 1980s with a new face and name, but it has been there in history,” he said. Muslims are also to be blamed for the spread of Islamophobia, he said and added, “Part of this is our own making. We are to be blamed for this, to a certain extent.” “This is against the fundamentals of the modern civilization and human rights that oppose discrimination against any particular race or religion. So Islamophonbia, or the fear of Islam, which promotes hatred against Muslims, violates human rights,” he said. There are 26 million Muslims in Europe, making Islam a part of the European community, Said El Lawindi, writer and expert in international political affairs, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said.
“Every day (on an average), 36 Europeans convert to Islam, So, I do not think it will be easy to ignore or avoid Islam’s growing influence in the West, although there is a fear that the ‘Green Enemy’ — or Islam could replace the ‘Red Enemy’ — or the now defunct Soviet Union, among many westerners.”
He said, there is a tendency to link Muslims with terrorism. “The Middle East is seen as an incubator of terrorism. I had to prove to French police that I am not a terrorist, even after living in Paris for 20 years.”
Rasheed Al Khayoun, researcher and lecturer on Islamic Philosophy, Religion and History, said the history of Islam and the West is not of hatred only. “In fact, there are many good examples of overtures and peace,” he said.
“Recently, Saudi Arabia has started the interfaith dialogue to promote a better understanding between Islam and the West,” he said. “This is a good example and I think the media should promote this, in order for the West to develop a better understanding of Islam and the Muslims.”
The 12th Arab Media Forum concluded yesterday with more than 1,200 participants attending where the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has honored the winners of the 12th Arab Journalism Award (AJA) during the closing ceremony at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai.

Trump, Pence back Iran protests as IAEA seeks answers on uranium traces

Updated 22 November 2019

Trump, Pence back Iran protests as IAEA seeks answers on uranium traces

  • Nuclear watchdog’s top inspector’s visit set
  • Internet only restored in 10% of the country

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday expressed support for anti-government protesters in Iran. 

Trump said Iran is so “unstable” that the government has shut down the Internet so Iranians cannot disclose what he says is the “tremendous violence” occurring in the country.

Trump tweeted Thursday that the Iranian government wants “ZERO transparency” and believes that by shutting down the Internet the rest of the world will not find out about the “death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!”

Pence, also in a tweet, he said: “As Iranians take to the streets … the Ayatollahs in Tehran continue to use violence and imprisonment to oppress their people. The United States’ message is clear: The American people stand with the people of Iran.”

More than 100 protesters have been killed by security forces, according to Amnesty International. The EU, France, Germany and human-rights organizations have condemned the use of lethal force against the protesters.

The unrest erupted on Nov. 15 after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. Protests began in several provincial areas before spreading to about 100 cities and towns across the country. They soon turned political, with protesters demanding top officials step down.

On Thursday, the regime began restoring Internet access in Tehran and a number of provinces, following a nationwide shutdown designed to stifle the unrest.

The blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support, and to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said the restoration of connectivity in Iran was only partial, covering about 10 percent of the country.

Meanwhile, the UN nuclear watchdog’s top inspector will travel to Tehran next week to demand an explanation of the origin of uranium traces found at an undeclared site, the agency’s acting chief said on Thursday.

It was first reported in September that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found uranium traces at the site. Tehran said the site is a carpet-cleaning facility.

Two weeks ago, the IAEA confirmed that environmental samples taken at an unspecified site had shown traces of uranium that was processed but not enriched.

“We have continued our interactions with Iran since then, but have not received any additional information and the matter remains unresolved,” acting IAEA Director General Cornel Feruta told a quarterly meeting of his agency’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna.

Feruta told Iran in September that “time is of the essence” in clearing up the origin of the traces. 

The IAEA has not been convinced by Tehran’s explanations.

“A meeting between the agency and Iran is scheduled next week in Tehran to discuss it further,” Feruta said. “It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly.”