Study: Stories About Muslims Focus On War, Terrorism

| by Diana Kruzman
Protesters rally against Islamophobia in 2010Protesters rally against Islamophobia in 2010

Nine out of 10 news stories about Muslims and Islam in the U.S., U.K. and Germany focus on war or terrorism, a study by Media Tenor found.

The results, which analyzed news coverage between 2001 and 2015, indicate that these media reports are disproportionate to the actual number of Muslims involved in terrorist activity, according to TIME. Although the news portrays Muslims and Islam in the context of extremism and conflict, less than one percent of the global Muslim population supports terrorism.

In contrast, right-wing extremists in both the U.S. and Europe are responsible for far more violence than religious extremists. Anti-government extremists are considered a top threat by 74 percent of American law enforcement agents, compared to only 39 percent for religious extremists, according to a study conducted by Duke University in 2015.

Furthermore, research by Media Tenor in 2013 found that religions other than Islam, such as Christianity and Judaism, received a significant amount of positive coverage in American news stories, with leaders such as Pope Francis featured prominently, according to the Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. In contrast, terrorist leaders such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, were portrayed much more often in connection to Muslims and Islam.

The negative media portrayal of Muslims, according to Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is a driving force behind anti-Muslim violence and Islamophobia in the United States and Europe. Hate speech is becoming increasingly common, especially as terrorist attacks such as those in Brussels, Paris and San Bernardino continue to generate news coverage.

"For girls, it's pulling on the hijab and calling them terrorists, and for boys it's saying that they have a bomb in their backpack and calling them terrorists," Hooper said, according to USA Today.

“[Some politicians] really have mainstreamed Islamophobia," he added, referring to public figures such as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.

Sources: TIME, USA TodayAl-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University / Photo credit: Alan Greig/Flickr