Islamophobia and the media : the portrayal of Islam since 9/11 and an analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy in South Africa
The media plays a fundamental role in shaping societies’ opinions about topical issues. Most human beings depend upon either the print media (newspapers/magazines), television or radio as their sources of news. The advent of the internet since the 1990s revolutionised the media world and created an immediacy on the impact of news like no other previous medium could provide, as it had a combination of audio and visual material. The most effective demonstration of such immediacy would be that of the impact of the September 11 attacks in the USA in 2001. The aftermath of the media’s impact still resonates throughout the world today, especially its impact on those who follow the Islamic faith. This paper aims to explore the impact of the media on this newly derived concept of Islamophobia, especially post 9/11. It includes a case study of the Islamophobic Danish cartoon controversy that occurred in February 2006. This paper discusses the concept of Islamophobia and anti-Islamism, as well as how the events of 9/11 and its media coverage contributed towards the worsening of this sentiment across the globe. The conclusion reached is that instead of the media acting as a mediator between Western society and the global Muslim community and creating an atmosphere of each understanding the other, it acted negatively against Islam, the world’s fastest growing religion.