Media Conception of Radical Islam Changing with Malala Yousafzi Shooting

Posted on December 7, 2012 by


Prezi and article by: Andrew Vold and Matt Carlson

We decided to make a Prezi that covers our issue and then talk more about the Malala shooting with our blog post.  Here is the link to our Prezi, Enjoy!

The original topic we had discussed using for our project was that the media portrays terrorist groups and other radical Muslims as members of the mainstream Islam faith.  After scanning five or ten articles, we came to the realization that the media is actually making a legitimate attempt to inform readers that radical Islam and Islam are two completely different things.  This was likely due to the issue we were focusing on, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai.  It is evident that the media has been covering terrorist issues in a way that doesn’t differentiate between the “religion” terrorists practice and actual Islamic faith.  Because of subtleties in the Malala story, the media has been forced to show the difference between Islam and Radical Islam.

As a 7th grader living in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai gained worldwide recognition when she exposed the Pakistani Taliban for the injustices they were committing in the education of women.  Because of the power the Taliban hold in Pakistan, they are very influential in keeping women oppressed and voiceless.  Malala paid dearly on October 9, 2012 for her brave effort in stopping their oppressive regime.  She was shot and nearly killed by Pakistani Taliban after they targeted her for infiltrating Western ideas into Pakistan.

The content of this story makes it very easy to differentiate between Radical Islam and Islam.  There are two sides of this story: there is a little Muslim girl who is considered a hero by the world, and there is the Taliban group that shot her.  The shooting of Malala outrages the Muslim community; this clearly shows that the Muslim community does not approve of the terrorist group in anyway.  Also, Malala Yousafzai herself is a Muslim.  It is very convenient and makes for a good story if the media frames Malala as a hero, which she rightfully is.

On the other side of the story, the Pakistani Taliban keep insisting that they will continue to use violence against anyone else who tries to act against the Taliban’s oppression of women.  Terrorist groups are often seen in the media using violence.  However, what makes this story different is that this type of violence is against Muslims.  The typical story seen in the media involves Radical Islam groups attacking Jews or Christians.  Since the violence in the Malala shooting is clearly not between two groups of the same faith, the media has to frame the issue as a struggle between Muslims and Radical Islamists, and not Muslims vs. Muslims.

Even though this issue paints a pretty clear picture, there are many examples of attacks that link violence with the religion of Islam.  The media doesn’t need do a whole lot of convincing to its audience that Muslims are violent; the content does it for itself.  When readers of a news website see the world news headlines, they see stories of terrorist violence in the Middle East.  Without doing any actual reading of these articles, readers associate the stories with Muslims being violent.  Since the Middle East is so often linked as the worldwide center of Islam, media audiences get the feeling that Muslims are always in war and are inherently violent.

Most often these types of stories are short and to the point.  They don’t make any attempt to distinguish between different terrorist organizations and the Muslim community.  All they need to mention is that a Middle Eastern terrorist group committed violence and readers immediately interpret this as Muslim violence.  This is one influential reason why so many Americans fear Islam.

There are countless examples of the media framing the religion of Islam as violent and oppressive.  In the Pakistani Taliban shooting of Malala Yousafzai, Muslims are the victims of violence and oppression.  This forces the media to educate its audience on the difference between Islam and Radical Islam.


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