Demonization and Evil of Islam in the MediaJune 26, 2021
After writing my books “Orientalism ” and “The Question of Palestine” (The Question of Palestine) in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I started a third book called “Islam in the News Network ” (Covering Islam). I wrote the book and I thought of them as a kind of trilogy series.
The book ‘Islam on the News Network’ was a study of how Islam was reported in the popular media just after the Iranian Revolution , which, as you may recall, defined itself as an Islamic revolution. What I discovered was an arsenal of images used by the media, all of which were extremely negative: large crowds of people shaking their fists, black flags, hard-faced Khomeini. it was as if the main duty of Muslims was to threaten and kill Americans. 16-17 years after I wrote “Islam on the News Network”, last year, as recently as 1996, I updated the book and wrote a new preface to it. Due to the many events that have taken place in the Islamic world over the past 16-17 years, while I was expecting a more familiarity and a more level approach to the reflection of the events on television and print media, I saw with surprise and trepidation that the opposite was true.
I think the situation got worse. It was now replaced by a much more frightening portrait of Islam, represented by documentaries such as ‘Jihad in America’, about the bombing of the World Trade Center. But about the Oklahoma City Attack, for example, similar generalizations were never made that the person doing the work was a “Christian fundamentalist.” But now “Islamic Jihad” had come to America (!). The most irresponsible reporting examples were witnessed. People speaking Arabic were shown, and an English voice said they were “discussing the destruction of America.” However, if you knew that language and understood a small part of what was said, you would understand that what they spoke had nothing to do with what is claimed in the news. Islam and its teachings have become synonymous with the word terror, and because of the “demonization” of Islam, for example, there is hardly any difference between ‘religiousness’ and ‘violence’.
In a liberal society like this [he means America], the so-called ‘independent media’ is actually so driven by commercial and political interests and is so lazy that it is not possible to talk about investigative reporting. In general, what they do is simply repeating the lines of the government and the lines of people of high influence. For them, Islam is a “foreign devil” used to divert attention from the injustices and problems in our own society. As a result, the human side of Islam and especially the Arab world is rarely seen in the media. The net result of this is emptiness on the one hand and simple, almost spontaneous images of terror and violence on the other.
There are a number of favorable pictures and cliches that originate not only from newspapers and television, but also from movies. For example, when I was growing up in the Khari region of Palestine, in the Middle East, I enjoyed movies about the Hollywood production of “1001 Nights” (Arabian Nights), starring actors like John Hall, Maria Montez, and Sabu. I mean, those movies were talking about the region I lived in, but they had the exotic and fascinating quality we call Hollywood today. A whole repertoire was used: sheiks running on horses in the deserts, machetes, belly dancers and things like that.
In the case of the popular media, Muslims generally consist of two things: First, they are bad guys and fanatics. Secondly, most movies end up with large numbers of Muslim corpses scattered all over the place. Arnold Schwartzenegger, Demi Moore or Chuck Norris cause it. There are many films about guerrillas going to kill Muslim terrorists. So the thinking about Islam is that it is something that needs to be rooted out.
A whole history of orientalist depictions portrays the Muslim and the eastern as a lesser breed. In other words, he says that the only thing they understand is the language of violence. The rule is this: They do not understand the word until their nose bleeds. It is not possible for us to talk rationally with them. So, is the Arab world full of terrorists? The only thing that needs to be done is to ask this question to common sense and mean “there are terrorists there as well as everywhere else”. But you know there’s so much more going on there. We are talking about 250 to 300 million people, and one of the biggest problems of Orientalism that needs to be addressed is these vast generalizations about Islam and its nature. For example, when talking about, say, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, there is very little in common that can be referred to as Islam. I mean both are muslim countries but history, language, traditions etc. There are substantial differences in the aspects. It is so vast that the word of Islam