Are Muslims Collectively Responsible?


For the Muslim community 2015 was a year marked by unusually vitriolic acts of Islamophobia. Whether it was the detention of a talented 14 year old student, Ahmed Mohamed, on suspicion of inventing a bomb (it was a clock), or the anti-Muslim rhetoric espoused by Republican presidential candidates in the recent debates, Muslims were repeatedly portrayed, collectively, as being worthy of suspicion, distrust, and at best as reservoirs of latent violence ever ready to unleash havoc. This portrayal peaked with the horrific attacks in Paris on November 13th 2015, where over a 150 people were killed. The instant reaction from many was to blame Muslims, within just a few hours of the attacks. Two CNN anchors discussing the horrific attacks asserted to their Muslim guest that “accept that responsibility to prevent the bigger backlash”. According to them the “finger of blame is pointing at the Muslim community.” 

While Muslims have overwhelmingly condemned all terrorist attacks repeatedly, the news and print media largely abdicated their crucial responsibility of offering balanced coverage. Instead, too often, these organizations favored sensationalist points of view. This has resulted in an understanding of Islam that is preoccupied with terrorism, violence and security. This substitution of caricature for reality underscores the urgent need to study the portrayal of Islam in the media.

Read the full study (PDF).