The blog tries explore why it is so easy to scapegoat Muslims as the bad guys and the role of the media is perpetuating this myth.

Like many people around the world, I was shocked, than devastated by the news of the massacre at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Even more horrifying was the idea that someone would live stream this atrocity to the rest of the world. So viral were the videos that even I found them in my group messages and I have not been able to get them out of my head ever since.

The reaction the world over has been mixed, though this was expected. Condemnation was swift but so were veiled comments that suggested that Muslims had brought it on themselves. Even since the attack, I have never quite been able to stop thinking; why this hatred against the Muslims? Why would someone feel that they are such a great threat to civilization that they would simply want to wipe them out?

I suppose the answers to such questions are too complex. It is too simplistic an explanation to say that people in the West hate Muslims because of the perceived acts of terrorism carried out by them – at least this is what the mainstream western media would have us believe. The mainstream media here would all attribute it to US-Israeli-Indian nexus.

Two things are important to understand here; one is that the ordinary westerners don’t really hate Muslims. They get along quite well with them. The second is that hatred is born out of ignorance. Most people living in the USA or UK for example, don’t personally know a Muslim. Their perceptions of Muslims are based, formed and fed by the media which in turn becomes a tool of manipulation.

Hate rules across the social spectrum because people find it easy to digest whatever the media spins out. Many commentators have suggested that the Islamophobia may have historical roots but now it serves the interests of the western military-industrial complex. If we all have an enemy, then we can direct our guns at it. The people who actually wield the guns are sometimes sick white supremacists.

But the problem is that Islamophobia is rampant in the media outlets, sometimes implicit and often explicit. The solution is to debunk the myths. One at a time, it can be done.

In 2014, a prominent Iranian-American professor appeared on CNN to counter stereotypes about Muslims. Asked about the status of Muslim women in their societies, he pointed out that while Muslims have elected 7 women as heads of state, what’s the score of the US is this regard? ZERO!

I think that the media need to be better informed, open, pluralistic and fair. Coming back to the Christchurch massacre, it is pertinent to remember that the alleged murderer looked glanced at the media during his first court appearance. He had earlier claimed that he hoped to survive the attack to be able to tell his story to the world. Let’s hope it’s not his narrative that rules the airwaves.

Insha Rafique

Insha Rafique is a Software Engineer. She has done her Bachelors in Software Engineering from UMT.

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