In an outcry of anger and fear over the Paris attacks, the media has taken to the airwaves, throwing blame to Muslims and the nations of Islam, ignorantly claiming ISIS is part of Islam. While I can understand the hatred and fury that arises from the kind of horrendous violence seen in Paris, I can not accept that the media is so quick to push blame on Muslims. The truth about the religion of Islam is that they do not promote violence at all, they actually promote peace, and condemn the Paris attacks. While the media needs to find someone to blame for the atrocities in Paris, so as to understand how this could happen, they can not subject an entire religion to the actions of a terrorist group. Calling the Paris attackers of ISIS Radical Islamists completely objectifies, demeans, and distances an entire population of 1.6 billion Muslims from the rest of the world, creating an atmosphere of religious oppression.
Saying that the Paris attackers are a branch of Islam inaccurately represents the reality of the system of oppression from which they come from, promoting the kind of Anti-American mindset that creates terrorists in the first place. It discounts the world they grew up in, categorizing them into a sect of a religion that frankly has nothing to do with them. ISIS recruits new members in the same places where the United States send drones daily, benefiting from places where there is already an inherent fear of the Western world. If we continue to promote this animosity towards Muslims, the Muslim people will have all the more reason to join terrorist groups, rather than side with the U.S. And as Australian News Reporter Waleed Aly stated in a broadcast on November 17, “ISIS leaders would be ecstatic to hear that since the atrocity in Paris, Muslims have reportedly been threatened and attacked in England, America, and here in Australia. Because this evil organization has it in their heads, that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, Muslims in France, England, America, and here in Australia will have no where to turn but to ISIS. This is exactly their strategy”. He sees the ways in which ISIS is using these attacks to promote an environment of hatred towards them and towards Muslims, to link themselves with one of the biggest populations of religious peoples, and grow their supporters. It is simply uneducated and unfair that the media is condemning Muslims as a whole, when they are not even linked with ISIS. In fact, many Muslim Nations have condoned the violence in Paris and across the globe.
The White House and Obama’s Administration was quick to recognize the detrimental effects of calling these terrorists ‘Radical Islamists’. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest states that they understand that linking ISIS with Muslims would be politically incorrect and, “that the attackers’ view of Islam was “distorted” and “deviant,” and that most Muslims around the world condemn such attacks. Therefor the administration avoided using the term “because it does not accurately describe what happened.” The Obama administration sees the detrimental effects of linking one set of extremists to an entire religion. Obama’s America needs to remain allies with the Islamic nations, yet the media is completely framing them as part of ISIS. Because of the media, the American public now sees Muslims as ‘the other’, subjecting Muslims to a state of fear and anxiety about their own safety in the Western world. What else are the people who absorb mainstream media to think, when headlines read, ’Is Isis actually the beating heart of Islam?’? The reality is, that ISIS is not Islam, and millions of Muslims are taking to twitter to show solidarity with the Paris attacks, and to display that they are not promoting violence, but condemning it. One Muslim women tweets, “Getting over having to say #NotInMyName over and over again. FACT: these guys are a bunch of loons with a distorted perception of Islam.” As she shows through her tweet, the public’s perception of ISIS’s link to Muslims is completely skewed by the media. ISIS is being portrayed as a branch of Islam, and so all the Muslim masses can do right now is pour out their sympathy for the victims, their concern for their own state of safety in the world, and their frustrations with the media.
The media can no longer alienate the Muslim world. Calling the Paris Attackers ‘Radical Islamists’ does nothing but promote an environment of inaccurate hatred among American citizens towards Muslims, as well as fuel the fire for ISIS to recruit more members and make the U.S. more enemies. President Obama states, “It’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for-order, peace, prosperity…The Middle East and South Asia are sort of ground zero for us needing to win back hearts and minds…Not taking this into account would be doing ourselves a disservice in this fight”. Rather than creating a place of fear where there already is fear from the Paris attacks, the American media needs to educate people on the origins of ISIS, so as to show the ways in which we as a nation need to, in George W. Bush’s words, “declare a global war on terror”, and not a war against ‘Radical Islamists’. The media needs to show how all religions and nations are coming together in solidarity, condoning violence, and supporting a global mission for peace.