Islam in the eyes of Western media
By Ishmahil Blagrove
The public are informed of questionable practices supposedly endorsed by the Koran, such as the execution of adulterers and the killing of innocents. And with this information, the public condemns Islam as a barbaric and inhumane religion.
Yet aren’t these archaic and brutal practices also embodied in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible? In Leviticus 20:10, does it not call for the killing of adulterers? Does Leviticus not call for the killing of homosexuals? In Numbers 31:17, does not the Christian God cry out for blood: “… kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”
I’m sure we can all agree that these scriptures are open to misinterpretation and should in no way be used to condemn followers of the Christian faith. Yet it is upon such archaic scripture and text that the entire Muslim faith is inaccurately portrayed and hypocritically judged.
Even some of the most liberal speakers on the subject claim, “it’s not the words of the Koran, but people’s interpretations of it that cause problems.” Yet the West fails to realize that the very same statement holds true for the Christian scriptures.
The Holy Bible was used for centuries in the West to oppress women, discriminate against homosexuals, and even to condone the evils of slavery. Even today, the Bible is used as the text book for the US’s pending legislations against legal abortions and same-sex marriages.
It is even used within the Catholic Church to place the practices of safe and legal contraception under scrutiny, at a time when the world is being ravaged by AIDS. So it must be acknowledged that the West, too, uses the misinterpretations of archaic texts as a yardstick to restrict freedom of choice.
In the West, it is further argued that a woman should have the right to wear what she wants to wear; however, even here in the liberal West, the issue of choice is questionable, for whilst a man can walk the streets bare-chested, if a woman were to do the same, she would undoubtedly be arrested for indecent exposure.
So, even here in the West there are restrictions, albeit less draconian than those of many Islamic cultures, but restrictions nonetheless, restrictions based upon cultural values that invariably limit choice.
The power of the media and Hollywood to influence public opinion and shape public perceptions is unquestionable. Its ability to rewrite history and present fiction as fact is unparalleled.
Only Hollywood could sell the US bombings of Somalia and the resultant killings of 5,000 Somalis as a humanitarian mission. Black Hawk Down (2001) presented the story to the American public and the wider world as eighteen US soldiers who were killed while attempting to liberate ungrateful Somali Muslims from feuding warlords.
Hollywood also gave us such propaganda-based blockbusters as True Lies (1994), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Under Siege (1998), starring Denzel Washington, where, incidentally, the plots unfold as Islamic terrorists besiege New York City with a reign of terror as a result of US renditions. South Park The Movie (1999) and Rules of Engagement (2000) starring Samuel L. Jackson, and other films like these are the only points of reference from which many citizens in the West can relate to Islam.
These films have served to massage public fears and influence public opinion. Little wonder then that the Western public considers Islam a vile threat to their security and their way of life.
It is amidst the silence of the muted Western media that these injustices, double standards and blatant hypocrisies are permitted to flourish. Is it any wonder that frustrated young Muslims are becoming radicalized and seeking alternative methods with which to be heard?
The irrational onslaught against Islam and the endless propaganda thinly veiled in the Western media has to stop if we are to understand the current threat of terrorism. The root causes of so-called “Islamic terror” need to be addressed if society is to reverse the tide of disaffected young men who are unwilling to tolerate the double standards.
Tarnishing a faith and victimizing followers of a religion which boasts over a billion adherents is a very reckless and dangerous thing to do. Western governments and their obedient corporate media have tailor-made oversized clothing for this Islamic terror threat and if they continue spreading misinformation and marginalizing disaffected Muslim youth, they may soon find that the clothes they have made are quickly outgrown.
Prior to the 7 July bombings in London, there had never been a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims in Britain.
Whilst the media scratched their heads in disbelief, the government hijacked the occasion to bolster support for its failing adventures in the Middle-East, suggesting it was this type of wanton terror that they are trying to protect the public from. However, these arbitrary, uncoordinated, and indiscriminate acts of terror have not arisen from a vacuum, they are as a result of this so-called “War on Terror” and broader injustices, whether real or imagined.
Similarly, we have the case of Andrew Rowe, a convert to Islam who was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the “possession of items which might be of use to terrorists.” His crime? Having a notepad which contained details on how to fire a mortar and allegedly having socks which had traces of explosive residue. Whilst these individuals fade into oblivion, the list of Muslims imprisoned on the most spurious and questionable evidence goes on and on.
The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq illegal. Yet has the media articulated these comments into a debate that challenges the legality of the invasion and sets in motion the discourse that will facilitate justice for the scores of thousands who have lost their lives and continue to lose their lives daily?
Many Muslims are highly sensitive of the duplicitous nature and lop-sided reporting of the Western media and it is these injustices accompanied by the muted voice of the media that make many young Muslims question their loyalties.
Western governments and their obedient media have foolishly accompanied an imperialistic US administration into an ill-planned and ill-fated ideological crusade: a crusade which clumsily tramples on the sensitive, cultural and religious values of one fifth of the global population and which has reduced the international value of the United Nations to that of a colonial office.
This insanity must be brought to an end. The threat from so-called “Islamic Enemies” must be put into context. The “War on Terror” must be strip-searched to expose the hidden agendas and defuse the public hysteria. We must not allow the lies, deceptions and paranoia of the McCarthy era to repeat themselves.
Honest journalists and the public at large need to make their voices heard against these injustices; they must make a stand against this phoney “War on Terror” before this nightmare for Muslims becomes a reality for us all.
Ishmahil Blagrove jr is a documentary film maker. He has covered stories for such broadcasters as the BBC and Channel 4 news in Britain. He is presently a director of ricenpeas, an online film magazine
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