Three Muslims – the newlyweds Deah Barakat and his wife Yusor Muhammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha – were murdered yesterday, execution style, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I won’t link to any article. Instead I’ll let you search for one yourself. Let me warn you though, it won’t be easy to find one.
Because the victims were Muslims. Because the killer was a White male. He hates all religions and posted his hatred on Facebook. As the media isn’t doing their job, let me put a label on him; I call him a violent atheist extremist.
Once If the media decides to cover it however, you’ll read that it was an isolated incident and that the man was mentally ill. “What islamophobia? What ongoing hatred towards Muslims? We have no idea what you’re talking about. What does that even mean?”
I get the whole thing about journalism; how you need to have stories that will sell and how you have to capture people’s attention with a few recognizable words. Words that have a broad sense of meaning but that you have limited to specific connotations – words like extremist, fundamentalist, islamist, jihadist. But what about social responsibility? What about the fact that what you’re doing increases the ignorance in already ignorant people and creates hatred in those not taught to criticize you? How can you live with yourself knowing that you’re probably the reason behind much of the violence? Dr Mohamed Elmasry, assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama, puts this better:
Given what we know both about western media portrayals of Islam and Muslims on the one hand, and media effects and theory on the other hand, it would be foolish to dismiss western media representations as potential causal factors in anti-Muslim sentiment and crime. In fact, it is likely that anti-Muslim sentiment and crime are, at least in part, driven by one-sided, narrow, sensationalistic, and arguably bigoted western media portrayals of Islam and Muslims.
Is that day here when we say that there’s no place for us in the West anymore? Who looks out for us? Who speaks for our rights and who creates organizations that deal with violence against Muslims? Because it’s a real thing and it’s happening more and more often.
My thoughts are those shared by many outraged Muslims and sympathizers on Twitter. If it weren’t for social media, I probably wouldn’t have known of this shooting at all. The only articles showing up on my Twitter timeline depicting the incident is from The Independent (Al Jazeera also covers it, but they’re not Western media), a British newspaper, although it happened in the United States.
Elmasry asks: “What if Islamophobia has become so commonplace, so accepted, that it now represents a hegemonic system of thought, at least for relatively large pockets of people in some regions of the West?” (“Chapel Hill shooting and western media bigotry“)