ISLAMOPHOBIA IN FOX NEWS CHANNEL 14
There has been a debate in the last few couple of year over the wayFox news features the Muslims in the United States. It is abundantlyclear that the culture of the Muslims in America is viewed as beinginconsistent with the beliefs and values of the American people. Therepublicans who trust Fox news channel have been known to support thenotion that the Muslim culture is inconsistent with the Americanvalues. According to the Public Religion Research Institute in their2012 report stated that over 70% of republicans who trust Fox Newschannels are against the culture of Islam in the United States(Dekker et al 2013). This is contrary to only 40% of the Republicanswho trust other news channels. It is clear from research that the 40%is the figure that is publicly held by Americans on the culture ofIslam being inconsistent with the values of the American people. As aconsequence, it is abundantly clear that Fox News is imminent withIslamophobia in the United States. A Fox News channel has beenaccused of saying that Muslims in America are trying to develop aSharia law in the United States. Again, republicans who support andtrust Fox News channels hold this notion as true (EUMC, 2012).
Fox News channel has been in the front line accusing the Muslims inAmerica for their role in terrorist activities. There have beenvarious shows hosted by Fox News channel that have been clearlyagainst the Muslims and have also stereotyped the Muslims. Hosts ofvarious shows in Fox News such as Hannityor Bill O’Reilly paint a negative picture regarding the Muslims.Whereas many people would argue that the views aired by the stationmay not affect the already bias that is existent in the public arena,it is evident that the views on Muslims reinforces the bias (EUMC,2012).Additionally, a neutral person watching such shows will wonderwhether the Fox News Channel is really Balanced and fair as it claimsto be. It is evident that the neutral people will develop negativeattitudes about the Muslims when they watch such shows.
According tothe results published by Think Progress website, it is evident thatFox News channels has been using terms and phrases that are likely toportray the Muslims as people who should be feared. According to thestudy, the news channel has been using terms such as Sharia, radicalIslam and extremist Islam. It is, however, worth stating that theessence of using these times many times than other news channels suchas CNN is not the problem. The issue lies in the way or the contextthat these terms are used (Stephan & Stephan,2008). Theterms were largely used to widely paint a negative picture of theMuslims. For instance, the Fox News channel asserted that numerousMuslims have been involved in violent crimes or that they were tryingto climb the American political ladder.
Fox newschannel also invites guests largely talk negatively about theMuslims. For instance, Mike Gallagher, a guest of Fox news channelsin 2006 suggested that there should be an all Muslim checkpoint lineat all American airports. This is clearly a statement that is unfairto the Muslim community. Such statements have made the Americancommunity to fear Muslims and even avoid and stereotype them. It isevident that such statements are aimed at branding the Muslims asterrorists or criminals who are trying to erode the American culture(Kincheloe et al., 2010).What is surprising is that the Fox News Channel allows suchstatements to be made to the public through their widely viewedchannels across America (Riek et al., 2006).There is no doubt that the management and the hosts of various showsat Fox News channel have promoted and reinforced the aspect ofIslamophobia in the United States.
Research hasindicated that the Fox News president Roger Ailes has a personalphobia against Muslims and that he has allowed his personal opinionsand attitude towards the Muslims to dominate the news channel. It isargued that the news channel is so much against the Muslims that torushes to publish or air any news that seems to be against Islam.This has at times embarrassed the well established and respected newschannel. For instance, in March 2011, the news channel found itselfin a corner after publishing a story that asserted that the Islamiccouncil in Pakistan had banned the sale and distribution of paddedbras. It was later found out that the article was satirical articlefrom a comic website. This is a clear indication of the degree towhich the channel has gone to reinforce Islamophobia.
The concept of Islamophobia
The termIslamophobia was first coined in 1991 in the Runnymede Trust Reportwhich asserted that the term refers to the hatred and the hostilitythat is directed to the Muslims and which in turn generates intohatred and stereotyping against all or most of the Muslims. The termemanated from the more generally known tern xenophobia which haslargely been known as the fear for strangers (Greenbaum,2010).Research has indicated that the first application of the termIslamophobia was in the United Kingdom where and Europe in generalwhere Muslims were foreigners. The term Islamophobia carried with itvarious attitudes towards the Muslim culture and faith. According tothe Runnymede Trust Report, Islamophobia asserts that Muslims orIslam in general is a monolithic culture that cannot change orinteract and adapt to the new realities from the west. It is alsoabundantly clear that the concept of Islamophobia associates theMuslims with values that cannot be shared with other common faithssuch as Christianity. In this regard, Islam is associated with aculture or values that are unacceptable to the contemporary world(Gijsberts et al., 2009).Their culture and values are viewed as being strange hence thediscrimination and hostility against the Muslims.
Islamophobiaalso asserts that the Muslim religion is an inferior religion to thewestern cultures and religions. This is mainly said with reference tothe United States. Americans argue that the culture of Muslims andtheir values are barbaric and irrational. These arguments by theAmericans are elements of Islamophobia. The very same nature andvalues of the Muslim religion have made the American people to fearand stereotype the Muslims in the United States. The Islamic religiondoes not appreciate the western culture and believe that thewesterners, especially the Christians are living a lie. This hascreated animosity between these two religions. Considering that theChristians form the larger populations of Americans than the Muslims,stereotyping and discrimination is eminent.
A majorityof the terrorist activities have been conducted by people subscribingto the Muslim faith. The development of groups such as themujahedeen, alshabaab and al-Qaeda has only worked to promote thenotion held by the Islamophobia sympathizers that Islam is a religionof violence and terrorism (Dekker et al., 2013).Islamophobia has been for long associated Muslims with violence andterrorism in America and other parts of the world. Bill O’ Reillyof Fox news channel asserted that the bombing of 9/11 was done by theMuslims. This is a clear manifestation of Islamophobia. Islamophobiahas branded the Muslims as terrorists and has also portrayed Islamreligion as a religion that is driven by violence (Greenbaum,2010).
It is alsoclear from research that Islamophobia asserts or portrays Islam asapolitical ideology. It is unfortunate that the Islam religion isviewed as a violent political ideology that is driven by the agendaof a religious group. Americans are alert to avoid the emergence ofthe Islam political ideology in the United States. Islamophobiaexists amongst 33% of Americans and the various news channels such asthe Fox news channel enhances the element of Islamophobia throughtheir biased programs.
Theoretical framework andmethodology
The studyapplied Social Identity Theory to attempt to connect the variousfactors that lead to the aspect of Islamophobia. Social identitytheory asserts that numerous people have a need for positive selfidentity and also that people desire to positively belong to a socialgroup that they view positively. The members of a particular socialgroup will view other members in outside groups with a negativeattitude or even from a criminal angle (Abrams &Hogg, 1996).Research has indicated that the largest social group comprises thenationals of a particular country. The nationals form a social groupand they view themselves in a positive manner whereas they view theoutside groups negatively and with suspense. The outside groups maybe from other countries or from different religions which are notpracticed by the nationals. Islamophobia can clearly be identifiedwith this theory. The Muslim community is an outsider group in theUnited States and the nationals view the Muslims negatively.
The symbolicracism theory was also applied in this research study. This is atheory that asserts attitudes between various groups of peopleemanate from the imagined or real threat to the values and beliefs ofone of the groups. The theory asserts that the conflicting groupsargue over the values and beliefs of one of the groups. In the UnitedStates, it is abundantly clear that the Christians and the othernationals do not support the beliefs and values of the Muslims. Thevalues and beliefs that the groups conflict over can be related towomen social positions and roles, sexuality and judicial systems.According to this theory, it can be argued that the Muslims are athreat to the culture beliefs, values and the safety of the Americanpeople.
The researchused primary and secondary research methods to collect data andinformation about the Islamophobia in Fox News channel.Questionnaires were prepared and distributed to various groups ofpeople. The questionnaires sought to answer the question of whetherFox news channel was promoting Islamophobia. The questionnaires were30 in number and included multiple answer questions, as well asdetailed questions which needed the respondents to brainstorm andexplain the questions. The respondents to the interview questionsranged from high school students to parents and officials at Fox Newschannel. A total of 25 people answered the questionnaires. Among themwere 15 students, 5 parents and 5 officials from Fox News channels.The respondents were randomly selected and they mainly includednon-Muslims.
Interviewswere also another primary research method that was used in thisresearch. The five officials and the five parents were interviewed inan interactive forum. The information collected was gathered andanalyzed later. Interviews are an excellent form of informationcollection since clarifications can be made instantly. It is alsoevident that there are questions that come up in the middle of theinterview which were not initially planned or part of the questions.The aspect of getting direct answers for direct questions and thechance to clarify points ensures that the information collected isboth correct and satisfied.
Thesemethods of data and information collection are, however, eminent witha few challenges. Most of the respondents may be biased and might endup giving the wrong information. It is also evident that a majorityof the respondents are hesitant to respond for fear of exposure. Itis, however, clear that the respondents were assured of theirconfidentiality, as well as that of their responses. Considering thatthe information being collected was confidential and only forpurposes of academic research, the respondents were free to givehonest answers.
Secondarymethods of data collection included research on the internet, books,as well as journals. The internet proved to be extremely useful infinding information regarding the Islamophobia that the Fox newschannel has been spreading across the country through its programs.There was also enormous amount of information in the journals and thebooks regarding the topic.
The aspect of Islamophobia existed past 9/11 albeit on thepremise. However, research has indicated that the vice has increasedin the decade following the 9/11 attack in the USA. It is evidentthat Muslims have been subjects of discrimination, bias and exclusionfrom the social, economic and political life in the westerncountries. The Runnymede Trust in the U.K has produced two famousreports with regard to Islamophobia in 1997 and also in 2004 afterthe terrorist attack in the United States (Greenbaum,2010).In the latest report, it is clear that life has become extremelydifficult for Muslims in America and also in the United Kingdom afterthe terrorist attack. This is a clear indication that the Muslimshave been associated with crime and violence, as well as terrorism.
Majority of American youngsters have confessed to have a negativeattitude and an element of fear from the Muslim community. Theyoungsters asserted that they received or learnt the stereotyping andfear of Islam from their parents, as well as from the media. Theaspect of Islamophobia is extremely common in the United States.Research has indicated that over 30% of all Americans suffer fromIslamophobia. Republicans, especially the ones who trust and supportthe Fox News channels are utterly opposed to the Muslim culture(Dekkeret al., 2013).Over 70% of these republicans show their open discomfort with theMuslim culture. Islamophobia has associated the Islam with variousnegative attributes. Violence and terrorism is the primary aspectthat the Islam religion has been associated with. This has madepeople to fear the Muslims who live amongst the westerners.
United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has stated thatIslamophobia is an issue that is of great concern. Muslims are mainlythe minority group in the western countries such as the UnitedStates. They are therefore subjected to immense discrimination anddenied various political and economic opportunities. The policymakers must come up with policies that will deal with the issue ofIslamophobia. Since 9/11 terrorist attack in America, research hasindicated that the American government has arrested and detained 160Muslim-American terrorist suspects and criminals. The media, such asFox news channels has been in the frontline to publicize such news(Dekkeret al., 2013).This has branded the Muslims as the criminals and as the terrorists.The media and the government attention on the number of Muslims whoare arrested as terrorist suspects make the idea of Islamophobia moreprevalent and widespread than it really is.
Data collected by Gallup indicate that the issue of Islamophobiadoes not only affect the Muslims in the United States, but it affectsthe Muslims across the world. Muslims from across the world haveargued that the western countries do not respect the Muslims.Accordingly, the western world has also asserted that the westernersdo not have absolute respect for the Muslims. Research has shown thatover 50% of Americans and 40% of people from Canada do not respectthe Muslim cultures. Research has also indicated that the media hasbeen in the frontline associating Muslims with terrorism and violence(Dekkeret al., 2013).The various news channels publicize an issue that is done by aMuslim. The arrest of Muslim terrorism suspects receives enormousmedia coverage hence aggravating the already existing discriminationand stereotyping against the Muslims.
Content analyses of fox new coverage news and other programmer
Fox news channel has been accused by many analysts of fuelingthe hatred and discrimination against the Muslims throughIslamophobia. There are various programs that have been aired by thenews channels that are openly against the Muslim culture and thatbrand the Muslims as terrorists and criminals whose religion andcultural values are inconsistent with the American culture (Lean,2012).Fox News host Laura Ingraham who was initially in the support of aPark15 Muslim community center took a turn and argued that theterrorists had won for being allowed to build the Muslim communitycenter. She said this in an interview with the ABC news in 2010.Andrea Peyser of the New York Post, a newspaper that is associatedwith Fox news channel wrote an article about the negativity of thePack15 building at ground zero. It is clear that the building wasreferred to as a giant yet there were other bigger buildingssurrounding it. This is was a language that was meant to portray theMuslims in negative image.
According to MediaMatters reports, Fox News channel hosted 47 guests between May andAugust of 2010 to discuss the Park15 project. It was clear that 75%of the guests were against the project. It is such programs that makethis news channel to be viewed as promoting Islamophobia (Lean,2012). It wasevident from the shows that the people invited were opposed to theMuslim culture personally and that they were opposed to the idea ofhaving a Muslim community center.
The contentof the news that the Fox news channel covers have Islamophobicinclination. For instance, “Park 51 Will be used for Terrorism”was run by the fox news channel. This is a clear Islamophobic titleand there is no doubt that the channel is biased towards the Muslimsand brands them as terrorists. Additionally, “Sharia lawa-coming’:” was run on Fox news channel. It is clear that aviewer might be made to believe that the Sharia law will be made apolicy in the USA by the Obama administration (Tashman,2013). Thenews channel has also hired Herman Cain, a contributor, who arguedthat Muslims should be stopped from occupying high government officesand also that mosques should be banned in states since they seek toestablish Sharia laws.
It isabundantly clear that the Fox News Channels is a promoter ofIslamophobia. The news channel has used time and resources toadvertise the aspect of Islamophobia across the United States. Theprograms that the station airs and the content of its news are rifewith Islamophobia. The owner of the channel is personally against theMuslim culture and has therefore extended the hatred and thediscrimination to the channel.
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