We live in a world where our biggest information source is the media. Unfortunately for us the media can never be relied on one hundred percent, and in a lot of cases we are being shown anything but the truth. This has caused much heartache for the people that media lies targets, such as people of the Islamic faith and in turn a lot of conflict between these minority groups and citizens of the western countries they live in, Australia being on of the mostly affected.
In light of September 11th 2001, a whirl wind of media coverage, all with different views and versions of the truth bombarded our televisions, newspapers, and radios. This was no favour for the followers of Islam as the blame for the World Trade Center bombing was supposedly carried out by Islamic Extremists. Despite the fact that till this day there is still no hard evidence that this theory is true, hours after the bombings Islamic centers such as mosques, schools and even buses were targeted by vandalism and abuse, to the extent where Muslim women who wear the Hijaab were too afraid to leave their houses and becoming a targets of rape, verbal and physical abuse.
The Bali bombings a year and a while on didn’t help much at all. Muslims became the targets of further abuse and home raids by ASIO in most violent ways in what ASIO claimed to be a search for terrorist connections is Australia. Surely the government didn’t feel that all Muslims were terrorists and all terrorist acts were linked to Muslims did they? This is what Muslims around the globe were distressed about, and they blamed media for the biggest part in the scam. It is a fact, media is an information source. We can’t ignore the fact that media is in our lives every single day, but what we can do is open up our minds and realise that what we see and hear and read isn’t always the full story. The only solution to this mass ignorance is to educate ourselves and others, read between the lines and get to know people for who they are and what the believe, not for what the media tells us they are.
The researcher’s topic was on The Influence of Media on the Discrimination Against Muslims in Australia. The reason this topic was chosen is because they feel it has affected everyone in some way, whether they are Muslim themselves or even if they lost someone in the tragic events. The researcher wanted to research the effect media has on people’s opinions and what they feel the main reason for their opinions is. The researcher’s findings were quite interesting as a majority of the participants felt media was at fault for the abuse and discrimination Muslims were being faced with today in Australia.
Unfortunately, discrimination against minority groups is nothing new to the eyes of the world today. Living in a multicultural country such as Australia would lead one to believe that individuals are accepting towards others regardless of their race, background, religion, colour or gender. On the contrary, world events such as September 11th and the Bali Bombings has given an opportunity to place Islam and its followers under the microscope of the media influencing Australia in a major way, regardless of the validity of the media coverage.
The researcher’s objective in conducting her research is to discover the influence media has on the attitudes and views of Non-Muslims towards Muslims post world events such as September 11th and the Bali Bombings. Another objective is to discover whether individuals thought media coverage had an influence on their overall view of Arabs, Muslim or not.
The researcher’s primary research tool will be a Questionnaire aimed at thirty people aged sixteen and above relating to their opinions on discrimination against Muslims post world events such as September 11th, media influence and media validity. All questions relate to the research topic and will be a major aid in summarising the opinions voiced throughout different age groups.
Unfortunately in today’s world, discrimination is an issue that we will all face at one point in our lives. Currently, the main issue surrounding followers of the Islamic faith is in fact discrimination and Muslims feel they are being targeted oppressed and discriminated against because of their beliefs and ways of life. Recent world events have been no friend to Muslims, only further placing the minority group under the magnifying glass of the western world. The reason this issue was chosen is because of the recent attention this issue has had and the huge outburst of opinion it has had.
In the case of Muslims, media feeds discrimination, and Muslims feel they are being falsely portrayed in the eyes of the media as terrorists and Islam as a religion of violence. Coverage of recent world events has influenced people, their opinion and attitudes towards Muslims, by being biased in the process of obtaining their information. Muslims are beginning to wonder how they can overcome the massive influence that media has over people, which seems to have ended up being expressed as discrimination for their beliefs.
“The impact of the events of 11the Sept. on the Muslim minority communities living in western countries such as the U.S.A, U.K and Australia has been traumatic. Muslims in these countries are now victims of fear and suffer from the anger of the local majority, day in and day out. They are trying to close themselves in a shell, by suppressing their identity, by instructing their children not to tell their classmates that they are Muslims and by keeping away from their mosques and other religious institutions. A large number of attacks on Muslim mosques and other such institutions have been reported both in the US and in Europe. There have also been incidents of physical aggression, verbal abuse and insults by e-mail and through the Internet against Muslims,” (EU-Asia One Year after September 11, European Parliament, 11 September 2002 Asia Update by the Strategic Alliance for Asian Studies)
Miseducation has also contributed to the discrimination being faced by Muslims day to day. It seems that society is afraid to learn and ask about issues they are unfamiliar with, such as Islam and its followers. We find it easier to rely on media as a source of information about tragic world events and the so-called contributions that Islam and its followers had.
“Bahtisen Etlik told the November 1 Illawarra Mercury that she has stopped wearing her traditional hijab headscarf after suffering five years of taunts and abuse. Etlik is not alone. Many Muslim and Arab Australians are bracing for an escalation of racist abuse and harassment following ASIO and Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the homes of Indonesian Australians at the end of October, following the Bali Bombings. Although Prime Minister John Howard has made repeated public assurances that the authorities are not targeting Muslims in general, but individuals, it will be no comfort to those who will experience hostility and abuse as a result of the government’s hysterical campaign to “root out terrorists from within,” (By Sarah Stephen Courtesy of Green Left Weekly.)
World leaders in the media also have a huge contribution and influence to Discrimination against Muslims. In recent times, when the War on Iraq was in its first stages, the world saw President George Bush and his colleagues expressing their concern for apparent Weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq. The fact that the coverage of such a thing was publicised in newspapers and aired on television all over the world is one to surely influence negative attitudes to Muslim people, in Australia or anywhere else, Iraq being one of the largest Islamic countries in the world today.
Sydney Acehnese activist Muhammad Dahlan told GLW that the raids by the secret police are “what Kopassus [Indonesian special forces] does in Aceh. They come through people’s houses looking for weapons. They don’t worry about evidence. They scare people, put guns in their faces “I think ASIO and the AFP have been learning from Kopassus”. (By Sarah Stephen Courtesy of Green Left Weekly.)
On the other hand, we also have the world leaders, newspapers, television and the public denying any such thing such as discrimination against Muslims. Denying that media may in fact be one of the main tactics in influencing people to believe every word that is said. They are also claiming to be doing as much possible to reduce the affects of world events on minority groups, such as Muslims.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph’s November 1 editorial put it frankly: “It must be realised that these raids are not an attack on Muslims nor their civil liberties, as some groups have suggested – but it also must be accepted that it is in this innocent community that terrorists and their supporters will attempt to conceal themselves.” (By Sarah Stephen Courtesy of Green Left Weekly.)
Throughout my research, a majority of my information was found on the Internet as I feel it was the most resourceful ways of obtaining information for an issue such as Media’s Influence on Discrimination against Muslims in Australia. I didn’t use newspapers as my main source as I felt that newspapers, being a media source, wouldn’t have much coverage on an issue as Media Influence and I was unable to obtain any books regarding my issue.
The Influence of Media on the Discrimination Against Muslims in Australia was the main topic in the project report. The researcher chose this setting as the main research topic because she felt that it was very relevant and consistent with the world events that are happening at this point in time also because these events had been the main topic spoken about recently in world bulletins and news coverage. The impact of the events such as September 11th and the Bali Bombings on the Muslim minority communities living in western countries such as Australia has been traumatic. It has been reported that Muslims in these countries are now victims of fear and suffer from the anger of the local majority, day in and day out. The researcher wanted to shed the light on this discrimination and discover what role media played in influencing these feelings towards Islam and its followers in Australia.
The researcher conducted a survey on thirty people in order to gain a scope of opinions for her data collection and to compare these differences between the age groups. The thirty people were grouped by age and categorised as young adults, middle age and senior. This was done by the researcher so that she had ten responses from each age group. This was the only basis they were selected on. Race, colour and gender were all dismissed in the process. The survey was given by simply asking each person if they would mind participating in the research process. The topic was clearly stated and explained and any refusals weren’t taken personally.
The questionnaire itself consisted of closed questions answered in either a box tick yes or no procedure or a scale procedure. The questions themselves were those based on the influence media coverage of past world events such as September 11th and the Bali Bombings has had on attitudes towards Muslims and in what context. Also questions on the validity of media coverage were asked in order to discover if individuals thought the media coverage was true or not and whether the validity influenced their opinion or not. The researcher was hoping to achieve honest opinions on the attitudes towards Muslims post world events such as September 11th and whether it was the media that influenced these opinions in any way. The researcher strongly believed that media has a role in influencing the negative attitude towards Muslims that exists today in Australia.
The questionnaire procedure was quite reliable in answering the researchers questions and collecting the information she was after. It may have been more appropriate to give the questionnaire to more than 30 people and more towards a number of 100 people in order to gain a more precise view of opinions. The procedure was also reliable in the way that it only took the individual three to five minutes to complete the survey where as an interview would be a more time consuming procedure. Since the questionnaire was carried out in the researchers area, it was quite easy to find participants of a large group range instead of concentrating on one area where most participants would be of the same age group. The researcher feels that this procedure was most appropriate for the types of data she was collecting and she feels it was most successful.
The researcher received various feedback, much of which summarized to show that Media is in fact the majority cause for mistreatment and discrimination against Muslims in Australia.
All age groups were evenly distributed as much as possible. The question “Do you believe certain groups in our society today are being faced with discrimination because of their religious beliefs”, 28 out of 30 answered Yes and the question “Do you believe society????????s attitude towards Muslims has changed in a negative way since September 11th” again 28 out of 30 answered yes. 21 out of 30 people believe that Muslim women are the most targeted in discrimination of Muslims. 10 out of 30 people believe that discrimination affects Muslims in unemployment, 1 believe it affects Muslims mentally, 4 believe it affects Muslims physically, 7 believe it affects Muslims verbally and 8 believe it causes mistreatment towards Muslims. 30 out of 30 people believe that the discrimination against Muslims cannot be justified in any way possible and 27 out of 30 believe that the world events caused an attitude change towards Muslims. 29 people out of 30 believe that attitudes have been changed in a positive way and 29 out of 30 people believe it was media that changed their attitudes. 27 out of 30 people believe that the media is biased and 25 out of 30 people are very unconfident that what they are shown by the media is valid.
It was not surprising to me that the results came out and concluded the way they did. I feel that it is quite obvious that the media is an unreliable source for valid information and I think a majority of society has realized this, because of all the blame pointing and unjust actions in the world today.