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Sociology of Islam: Orientalism in the media before and after 9/11 - Research Paper Example

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Sociology of Islam: Orientalism in the media before and after 9/11

According to Said, orientalism is a branch of thought that is based on epistemological and ontological distinction between the Orient and the Occident. In this case, Orientalism creates a western style of restructuring and dominating the perceptions of the nature of the Arab world. The Edward Said shaped the media narratives on Islam before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Edward, a Columbian critical theorist described orientalism in 1978 as a product of Western colonization of the Muslim countries. Orientalism viewed Islam as unchanging and thus cast Muslim s as dangerous and backward. After the 9/11 attacks, American media fueled negative hatred of Islam among American society through circulating images of Palestinians celebrating the attacks on CNN despite Palestinian authorities condemning the attacks (Alsultany 2011). Thesis statement: Orientalism in Western media after 9/11 attacks has portrayed Islam as religion of terrorists. Orientalism dates back to the period of European Enlightenment and colonization of Aran countries as colonizers construed the Arab countries in Asia as inferior and in need of western intervention. The Europeans created an artificial boundary and worsened the problem when they started generalizing the attributes associated with orientals and portraying those characteristics in western world through literary work, mass media channels and scientific reports. The Europeans defined the Islamic world as irrational, crude and lazy while Islam was made in to Mohammadism. Edward Said points out that orientals were publicized in European literary work and the behaviors romanticized by writers and poets in the Western world. The western literary writers depicted the Islamic world as containing clean oceans and pure sunlight that offers peace of mind. In this case, orientalism in media depicted the east as place of pure culture with no evil in the society thus Islam was depicted as a pure religion that condoned no evil. During the First World War, orientalism attacked Islamic religion and depicted it as weak due to a mixture of many religious thoughts. After World War 1, orientalism shifted from Europe to the USA and Arabs were represented as violent and cruel people (Said 1997). Edward Said asserts that Orientalism is a western misconception of the East and such misconceptions exist in the Western minds due to influence of the mass media. Western media engaged in stereotypes in coverage of 1979 Iranian hostage crisis by failing to offer a distinction between the Shiites that staged the hostage and Sunni extremists behind Al-Qaeda attacks on World Trade center in 1993 (Gerges 77). Though the two Muslim factions operate as enemies, the Western media bundled them together and identified them as scary Muslims. The Oklahoma bombing led to scapegoating of Muslims as Steven Emerson of PBS produced a controversial documentary titled ‘Jihad in America’ thus blaming Muslims for the Oklahoma bombings. Steve Emerson’s testimony before the investigations committee was shocking and American public opinion changed regardless of the real sources of terrorism (Said 1997). During the Gulf War and subsequent terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, American media coverage of the Muslims occupied the news thus exposing American citizens to negative images of Islam. In this case, American Muslims were not ...Show more
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Name: University: Course: Tutor: Date: Sociology of Islam: Orientalism in the media before and after 9/11 Introduction Orientalism refer to the East or Orient in contrast to the West or Occident as often perceived by the West. Orientalism emphasizes and distorts the differences of Arab cultures as compared with the US culture through depicting Arab cultures as uncivilized, backward and dangerous…
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