Lately, we have seen a rise on the number of attacks against the Muslim population living in the West. One factor that allows us to explain this increase in numbers is the criminalization this community is being subject to, consequence of the negative perception generated by the terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in France and England, and of the role the media is playing in promoting a negative image.
Last month, we were witnesses of news as shocking as the running over of a group of Muslims at the doors of a mosque in Finsbury Park (London), which led to the death of one of them; a second run-over attempt, luckily failed, close to a mosque in Paris; a shooting at the doors of a mosque in Avignon (France), which resulted in eight injured; six blessed Muslims during the celebration of the Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan celebration) at a sports center in Newcastle; an attack with acid against a couple of Muslims in London, which has let them horribly disfigured; the shooting of the owner of a halal shop Aldea (Spain); attacks against women wearing headscarves on the streets…
Sadly, the list goes on. Without going any further, the week after the Manchester attack, 139 islamophobe attacks were registered in this city. In addition, of all the aggressions listed, only the Finsbury Park attack has been classified as a terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the media insists on talking about an accident, about the psychological problems the attacker suffered or the socioeconomic situation he was in. This pattern repeats in almost all the situations listed.
So, why don’t we know hear about these news?
As shocking as the number and seriousness of the attacks is our lack of knowledge of them. These attacks have barely received any attention from the media, especially in national newspapers. This is even more evident if we take into account the attention that attacks committed by Muslims receive.
A recent study carried out by American experts has proved that, in the USA, a terrorist attack carried out by a Muslim receives five times the attention of an attack carried out by a non-Muslim. Furthermore, looking at the study’s data we see that, in the last 5 years, there have been 89 terrorist attacks in the USA, 11 of them committed by Muslim attackers. However, these 11 attacks caught a 44% of the total coverage given by the media to terrorism-related questions.
Fear and sensationalism
This lack of a balance between the attacks carried out by Muslims and non-Muslims can be explained by many reasons. It is not risky to speak of a campaign of fear and criminalization of the Muslim population, which contributes to the curtailment of human rights, the adoption of protectionist policies, the closing of frontiers, and the rejection of the refugee population running away from their countries’ wars and instability. Likewise, this serves the interests of far-right parties and movements, sadly rising all across Europe.
It is also possible to point out at the sensationalism present in this news’ treatment by the media, which generates shocking and eye-catching headlines that seem to catch the public’ attention.
This last case does not necessarily hide political interests, but answers to commercial reasons, and, in many cases, to the authors’ ignorance on the possible effects their articles have. Regardless of its intention, it is the Muslim population who continue to suffer the consequences. Thus, it is imperative to establish a code of journalist ethics and practices, as well as to keep track and report the way in which this news are being covered