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Media and Muslim Communities

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The ideologies and their presentation by media do not need to be conscious or deliberative effort. It can be based upon the simple assumptions existing in society, which can affect any society adversely. The effect of representing Islam as a religion and culture which is not to be trusted will have a serious potential threat to social life and society. Arguably, the maintenance of hegemony is not simply about political and social control but the extent to which the media give “ preferential access” to the definitions of those in authority (McQuail 2002, 97).

Stuart Hall argues that the access given by the media to those in authority to express their view ensures that the media reiterate the dominant ideology (1996, 427). The research will argue that the newspapers in question allow certain law enforcement this ‘ preferential access’ to reproduce the dominant ideology surrounding the implied relationship between Islam and terrorism and constructing social reality in a negative manner for the Muslim community as a whole. This notion of the media continually reiterating the dominant elite’ s viewpoint through quoting the ‘ accredited sources’ lends credibility to Stuart Allan’ s (1999, 84-7) view that this works to reaffirm the rules by which social life is to be interpreted.

The news appearing in leading newspapers suspecting a community or group leads to the image building among the mass. The perception and the level of knowledge of the individual reader and the news available build a different image of the event. This image can be distant from reality. It can work as a catalyst to develop a negative view of a specific group of people. Stuart Hall (1997, 427) adds that hegemony is not constant, but changes and develops which arguably, rationalizes the need for dominant ideology to be constantly reproduced in the press.

There have been several theoretical studies that have considered the development of the concept of ‘ Islamophobia’ since September 11th, 2001 and more so since July 7th, 2005. However, it is clear that the press has portrayed Muslim countries unfavourably for many years. This is evident in Edward W. Said’ s ‘ Covering Islam’ , although written in 1981, still represents an effective examination of the unfavourable treatment of Islam and Islamic countries by the media.

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