In the twenty-first century, it is possible to believe that the provision of knowledge has become invaluable to civilization and that it has become a struggle to regulate the kind of information available to the public. The media have been instrumental in many terrorist activities through widespread media reports and live broadcasting to enable the world to see the main events of many acts of terror. It is from mass media journalism where the population has ended up forming perceptions and misconceptions that contribute to the stigma of those people suspected of being regularly tied to terrorist attacks.The latest ban by president Donald Trump on citizens of seven countries is a clear indication of an outcome of a system of journalism that has created the notion that Islams are the main associates to extremist movements and which Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan tries to overcome (Hasan, 2016). As a result of the propaganda spread through manipulative journalism as depicted in the 9/11 and the July 2016 attack in France, it is apparent that there is biased commentary that Mehdi Hassan attempts to change through massive sensitization efforts.
Historical Terrorism Events where the Media has been Involved
One of the most widely cited events related to extremism based on the outcomes it had on American’s is the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. As expected, the media played a key role in the coverage of the events and in sharing the information with the world. However, one feature that came out from the manner in which the broadcasting was being carried out was that the attack had been an orchestration of Muslim-based terrorist group Al-Qaeda (Kellner, 2010). President Bush openly declared that there was a war between the US and the Muslim based groups despite the warning he received about promoting hate to an already tense association between Muslims and Christians. The Bush Administration declared war on any organization that was supporting terrorism and outlined non-negotiable demands to the Afghan-based group, Taliban (Kellner, 2010). The coverage of these events and the reaction by the president was enough to cause fear in the world as it became apparent that journalism has played a key role in the hate against Muslims and related countries.
A similar case was recently witnessed when terrorists launched several close range attacks in Nice, France in 2016. The mainstream media against focused on the suspects and it became apparent that the attack was by Islamic-based terrorist group, ISIL. The attack that led to the killing of 84 people was described through the mainstream media as a consequence of the growing rift between France and Muslim countries (Malsin, 2016). Some of the suspect’s names and the terrorists who were arrested drew links to ISIS despite the fact that no groups have since claimed responsibility of the Nice attack. While the official propaganda arm of ISIS had not responded and commented about it, the French media identified 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French-Tunisian man as the prime terrorist in the event (Malsin, 2016). Another one, Laruossi Abballa, 25, had served his term on terrorism recruitment and had owed allegiance to ISIS before being busted and killed by police. The general feeling that had become apparent was that the media had created the notion that the whole attacks was solely the manipulation of ISIS, despite the fact that the group had not officially claimed responsibility.
Analysis of the Two Events
A close examination of both historic terrorist events creates one key parallel that are relevant in shaping the perception that the society has about Muslims and Muslim countries. In both instances, it is apparent that the terrorists have an association to the Muslim countries. In the case of the United States, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were accused to be the Afghanistan-based terrorist group that had been behind the 9/11. The broad mentioning of Muslims by the Bush Administration ensured that the public developed the notion that indeed, there was a fight between Muslim and other religions, which ended up creating hate and discrimination on the alleged group.
Similarly, the France case is another illustration that showed that through journalism, it is possible to change the way the public perceives a given issue. It became apparent that the ISIS was a threat to the world because one of the attackers was said to be from Tunisia, but owed allegiance to ISIS (Malsin, 2016). the based journalism further created a similar effect as the one in the 9/11 by making it appear that Muslim based countries are the primary challenge for the society because reference to Iraq and related Islam countries was apparent. Overall, it created the impression that there was a need for the public to be cautious of the relationship they made with the Muslims.
The Outcome of Subjective Journalism
The response by President Donald Trump in January 2017 to ban nationalities originating from selected Muslim countries from entering the US is an outcome of an outcry by the public of the need to ensure that the terrorist countries are prevented from launching more attacks. Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya, a total population of 218 million citizens became victim to biased journalism that served to create hate and picture all Muslims from these countries to be terrorist (Diamond, 2017). It is upon this basis that specific journalists have realized the role of mainstream media in spreading hate can change the society’s perception of other countries. Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan has recently been involved in massive sensitization through the platform provided by the mainstream media itself to share of the adverse effects of media manipulation (Lewington., 2009). According to the journalist, the Trump’s response to label specific countries that are Muslim based is a knee-jerk decision that fails to consider the truth that many of those involved in terrorist activities have little to no relation with the Muslim religion. It is apparent, therefore, that based on the platform created to him by Al Jazeera, Mehdi Hassan has been instrumental in challenging the power structures in prejudiced journalism that serve to create hate for Muslims.
In summary, it is critical to relate that the media, through subjective journalism, plays a major role in the spread of hate and prejudice on Muslims around the world. President Trump’s move to ban over 200 million citizens from seven countries is an effect of media propaganda that has labelled Muslims as the key players in terrorist events. It is through the same platform that Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan launches a challenge by outlining that contrary to what is perceived by the public, many of the terrorists have no links to Jihad and the Muslim religion. It is thus recommended that based on the tensions that have resulted and reached the extreme of banning individuals from vising other countries, there should be more moderation of the type of information that journalists feed the public.
Diamond, J. (2017, January 29). Trump’s latest executive order: Banning people from 7 countries and more. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/donald-trump-refugees-executive-order/
Hasan, M. (2016). How religious are “Islamic terrorists” like ISIL? Al Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/2016/02/religious-called-islamic-terrorists-160220042236009.html
Kellner, D. (2010). 9/11, Spectacles of Terror, and Media Manipulation: A Critique of Jihadist and Bush Media Politics. Retrieved from https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/911terrorspectaclemedia.pdf
Lewington., N. (2009). Our double standards on terrorism Mehdi Hasan. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/jul/18/muslim-terror-suspects-neonazis
Malsin, J. (2016, July). Why France Has Become the Number One Target for Terror. CNN. Retrieved from http://time.com/4407810/nice-attack-france-target-jihadists-terrorism/