Media stereotypes all Muslims as violent
by Salina Khan
It might seem paradoxical that Muslims insist Islam is a peaceful religion yet the media daily report terrorist attacks, killings and internecine fighting in Muslim lands. To understand this, we need to realize that whenever an oppressed group tries to organize itself towards self-determination, freedom and justice, those who hold power and privilege in society feel threatened and often resort to evil methods to keep those groups subjugated.
For example, when African-Americans mobilized to demand equal access to political and economic rights and power in the 1960s, their movement was sabotaged through the FBI’s COINTELPRO program which was designed to destroy Black leadership and create disunity and discord among African-American activists. All of a sudden, cheap drugs, gangs and gun violence became rampant in African- American neighborhoods, essentially damaging the social fabric of their communities and killing the movement. Even today, African-American leaders who try to promote unity against oppression get mysteriously killed. On May 9, Malcolm Shabazz, the 29-year-old grandson of Malcolm X, was killed in Mexico. Just a few months ago he complained about ongoing harrassment and humiliation in a press conference after he was detained by the FBI and prevented from attending an international conference on Hollywoodism in Iran.
In the same way, Muslims who had been subject to Western-imposed colonialism and neo-colonialism for centuries saw independence for the first time in Iran in 1979 when the 2,500-year-old monarchy (propped up by our government in the twentieth century) was removed by popular demand under the leadership of Imam Khomeini. Both Western powers and their puppet monarchs in the Middle East in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, felt threatened that this movement for self-determination would spread–ending imperialist control of natural resources and cheap labor in Muslim lands–and went into action to foil Islamic movements for self-determination. In addition to imposing wars on Muslim lands (such as supporting Saddam Hussain in his 10-year invasion of Iran in 1980, two Iraq wars and Afghanistan), ragtag mercenary groups now known as Al-Qaeda (or as some say Al-CIA-da) were created to spread terror, chaos and destabilization in Muslim lands. Western countries provided the weapons and training while the Saudi pitched in money and the Wahabi clerics (who are not even considered within the fold of Islam for preaching extremism, hate and violence) provided a distorted understanding of Islam to entice the uneducated and poor.
If we study contemporary politics in the Muslim world we find that it was Western governments who supported the “mujahideen” (led by Osama bin Laden) in Afghanistan in the 1980s and again American and European intelligence agencies (along with illegitimate Arab monarchies) who funded and trained extremist groups to fight in Libya and now in Syria. In the same way, in America we find that whenever there is a “homegrown terrorist” threat, it’s almost always a case of entrapment. Even one of the brothers suspected of being behind the Boston bombing we now know had FBI handlers.
Just as the African American males have been stereotyped to be criminal and violent although it is they who are the victims of false charges, discrimination, and extrajudicial killings in Western countries, the media and officials now present Muslim men as terrorists though they are the ones being targeted through wars, drones and torture for daring to or potentially attempting to demand freedom and justice.
Islam and Muslims are being used as scapegoats for the wrongs and injustices our corporate-controlled governments are committing to fatten the profits of the elite at the expense of the global masses. While there are some Muslims, especially corrupt political leaders and scholars-for-dollars, who are part of the oppression, there is much more than meets the eye. As Jesus asked, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?
Salina Khan is a journalist with a masters in newspaper management from Northwestern University. She has worked as a business reporter at USA Today in Washington, the BBC London and Dow Jones Madrid and now writes occasionally for the Murfreesboro Post. Salina gained her Islamic education attending the Islamic Foundation in Chicago. Her experiences include teaching at weekend schools, volunteering in public schools and teaching her own three children at home. Her interests include reading, writing and community work.
Muslims were not behind 9/11 ~ Salina Khan