US media helped anti-Muslim bodies gain influence, distort Islam

A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

 

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk

 

“Anti-Muslim fringe organisations dominated the mass media via displays of fear and anger. Institutional amplification of this emotional energy, I argue, created a gravitational pull or ‘fringe effect’ that realigned inter-organisational networks and altered the contours of mainstream discourse itself.”

“The only major US Muslim organisation that has achieved a high level of media influence is the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is now working to rebuff the recent rise in anti-Muslim messages within the American public sphere,” said Bail.

 

Today, more than a decade since 9/11, evidence of that anti-Muslim influence still seeping into government habits is highly concerning.

 

“Muslim-American organisations have not been adequately represented within our policy process. For example, only one large Muslim-American organisation was invited to participate in recent Senate and Congressional hearings about the threat of radicalisation within the Muslim-American community.”