Terror attacks by non-Muslims get less media coverage
Terror attacks carried out by non-Muslims get less coverage compared to those by Muslims, said a report by the University of Alabama.
The study titled “Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?” showed that of the 136 terrorist acts that occurred between 2006 and 2015 in the US, “Muslims” were linked to only 12.5 percent of them but received more than half the news coverage.
“We found clear evidence that terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims receive drastically more media coverage than attacks by non-Muslims,” the report said.
The study also said a Muslim perpetrator of such attacks increased the number of stories by 357 percent.
Professor Gitiara Nasreen, teacher of Department of Mass Coomunication and Journalism at Dhaka University, said the whole Muslim community is blamed when a Muslim is involved in any terrorist attack, but in terms of non-Muslims the media is focused on the individual only.
“We always see that in terrorist attacks, if the attacker is Non Muslim, the media do not focus on religious identity [but] rather describe the attacker as mentally ill or insane,” she added.
Media analysts have previously noted that an attackers' identity can be ascertained from the words used by media when covering a violent extremism.
If dubbed a “terrorist act” at the very onset, then there is no doubt that the assailant is of Muslim origin.
But when reports express doubts about the nature of violence and are reluctant to term it as an act of terrorism, chances are that the perpetrator is a non-Muslim Caucasian.
The recent Christchurch attack was an exception where the New Zealand government was quick to say that the massacre of nearly 50 Muslims in two mosques was an act of terror.
However, the assailant's face was blurred and the media has been cautious in releasing details of the attacker.
Such is seldom the case for brown terrorist who have some relation to Islam.
Generally, when a Muslim is the perpetrator of an attack, his race, origins, and religion make immediate headlines.
In the New Zealand case, Brenton Tarrant has not been referred to as a “white terrorist” or a “Christian terrorist”, even though his detailed 74-page manifesto has clear racial and religious references.
Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, a teacher of International Relations at Dhaka University, told The Daily Star that all the western media was owned by Non-Muslims, especially Jews.
“We know about the media racism and the terrorist attacks by Muslims and Non-Muslims are the good examples of media racism,” he said.
Extreme right-wing politics is associated with ultra-nationalism, fascism and racism or race supremacy, which is often used as justification to oppress and repress others.
The most classic example of right-wing extremism is Nazism (oppressing Jews and others) and more recently, Zionism (oppressing Palestinian people) and the extreme right-wing politics used by President Donald Trump in many instances to stay in power.
While state sponsored terrorism is declining globally, white supremacist terrorism is on the rise.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in the United States has grown from 784 in 2014 to 1,020 in 2018.
There has also been a jump in reported hate crimes with an increase of 30 percent between 2014 and 2017, the SPLC wrote
Experts believe the disproportionate coverage between Islamist and non-Islamist attacks have shaped public perception against Muslims.
In another study titled “Equal Treatment? Measuring the legal and media responses to ideologically motivated violence in the United States”, it was revealed that “suspected terrorists who were perceived as Muslim received twice as much media coverage as non-Muslim suspects.
In cases of unsuccessful attacks, suspects perceived as Muslim received nearly eight times the coverage of those perceived as non-Muslim.”
The study was carried out by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Michigan-based research institute focused solely on the religious minority.
It also said that many journalists rely on the Department of Justice press releases to determine whether or not an act of violence qualifies as terrorism.
“The agency is six times more likely to issue a press release if the perpetrator is perceived as Muslim.”
Writer and anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed said since 9/11, Islam has been equated with terror and terror attacks in the Western media.
“Since then, Western ruling elites have crafted and stoked Islamophobia in their own countries to manufacture domestic consent for their imperial wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, which benefits the oil, and arms manufacturing industry.
“The longer term intent is to redraw the national boundaries of Middle Eastern countries, and install subservient rulers in the name of championing democracy,” she alleged.