News Sources Perceptions Differ: Christians using term ‘Allah’

Posted on October 16, 2013 by

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Controversy over the use of ‘Allah’ in Malaysia has been a re-occurring issue and has recently been brought up in world news once again. Malaysia is a Muslim dominated country; Christianity being the minority. The issue is that Christians are using the term ‘Allah’ which means God (not typically the term used in Christianity to describe God). The reference to God as ‘Allah’ has created tension within the country for years and the government has recently banned the use of ‘Allah’ to non-Muslims. The recent ban is a political issue, which brings rise to animosities between religions and is hindering the culture of the Malay’s.
This issue is talked about in the news worldwide. The skeleton of the story is portrayed similarly between a variety news sources but news sites have surprisingly different information presented, biases, and the focus of the article. The news sites being compared are BBC, New York Times, Aljazeera America, and Aljazeera.
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) headquartered out of the United Kingdom is a dominantly Christian region. The first impression of the article was that they the non-Muslims are being targeted and the government seems to be considered the ‘bad’ guy. The main picture with the article infers violence and upset people (Muslims). The article is brief; there is a small section of previous violence that occurred a few years ago but most of the focus is that Christians have used the word for years but Muslims feel threatened by this. They explained the situation of the term ‘Allah’ isn’t originally a Malaya word but is commonly used throughout the Middle East for Christians and Muslims.
Aljazeera America is branched of the news company Aljazeera located in Qatar. Aljazeera America is a competitive news company directed to Americans and is headquartered in New York. The first impression of the article is the government is the villain of the story because they are intervening on the Christian religious rights. The article gives a brief description of previous actions dealing with the issue and then discusses the government allowing religious freedom. They continue to telling the audience that the government in somewhat sly with the statement that minorities have religious freedom.
New York Times is a well-known news source for the United States; this news source is headquartered in New York City. Americans have the privilege of being able to peacefully practice their choice of religion. The title has weird wording, there is also no visual with the article, and they give little reference that this is an ongoing situation. The three main points that the New York Times makes is that the issue has polarized the multicultural country, hindering the development of law in relation to liberty of religious minorities, and that Christians can just move to another country if they can’t accept Islam supremacy (if it were only that easy).
Aljazeera is a news source that is headquartered in Qatar, a Muslim dominated society. The demographics of religion in Qatar are very similar to that of Malaysia. The initial impression of their article gives a more peaceful picture compare to the other news sources. They clearly described background information on the ongoing issue and important facts on religion in the area. The way they wrote the article was focused on a cause and effect situation rather than putting negative focus on an area. Aljazeera positively quotes of the government wanting peace and to ensure that citizen’s rights are being equally protected. The article gives examples of actions of citizens as a result of religious anxiety and goes more in depth in the story than the other articles did. Aljazeera also gives the point of view of a professor in Malaysia that “people talk of conflict, but they want cohesion”. They also reason that the cyber world for negative perceptions on this issue because extremists have easy access to voice their opinion via web.
After comparing the news articles the basic issue of using the term ‘Allah’ is present in each but they all differ when they go into specifics. Aljazeera America chose to discuss constitutional rights of the people in Malaysia when in the United States people are greatly concerned with their rights and freedoms as Americans. The United States prides itself in having laws giving religious freedom and being multicultural giving reason for why the NYT chose to focus on these main points because it shows Malaysia’s defaults. BBC focus was that Christians have been using the term ‘Allah’ when referring to God for years and Muslims fear that Christianity is trying to convert people from Islam. The described Muslims dislike for the Christianity’s use of ‘Allah’. Aljazeera gave a more rounded explanation of the issue; they went to explain different points of view and reasoning for why different parties are reacting the way they are. Aljazeera is located in a non-Christian dominated country and that had a huge impact on the way they approached the issue. The location of the news companies affects the information present/important points of the situation. The audience plays a strong role in what the news source tells about a religious topic based on the values in the region.

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