Damaging Narratives

A post about the increasing Islamophobia in public narratives and the question how stereotyped groups deal with the picture painted of them across public information outlets. 

When examining news coverage, it is necessary, to place it into political and social context. This post wonders about the system in which news outlets operate and how the disturbing development of xenophobia is a reoccurring, common theme.

Mass media relies heavily on corporate and political advertisers, which can result in conflicts of interest and be a threat to independency. An example: regarding the upcoming election, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote a letter to immigrants in the Netherlands, titled “Behave normally, or go away”. The page-long letter was printed in every major national newspaper (Taylor, 2017).

Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban was said to be a gift to the marketers and recruiters of ISIS. In Japan, a 2010 leak of police files revealed the mass surveillance on Japanese Muslims. The government reasoned it as a counter-terrorist method; despite the fact that there was not a single indicator or history of an extremist Islamic terrorist attack in the country.

Upholding the war on terrorism has strategic political economic reasons. It excuses state control over its own or foreign citizens and war over resources. When citizens are busy, watching out for who is to their left and right, they will have no time to look up.

If politicians, media and ultimately the public create such a hostile environment and hateful language, it influences the receiver. The influence stereotyping has on its subjects is dramatic.

Studies have shown, that being stereotyped has long-term effects like an exerted level of aggression, lack of self-control and the struggle to make rational decisions (Inzlicht and Schmader, 2012). It is a hurtful and damaging experience.

I want to end with the thought of the surah in the Qur’an, 5:32:

“Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”

It shows a deeply ingrained and representative believe of the Islamic faith. I wonder, how a person feels, who believes in these words, but is treated like a potential criminal, maybe even murderer?




Inzlicht, M. and Schmader, T. (2012). Stereotype threat: Theory, Process and Application. Oxford University Press: New York.

Taylor, A. (2017). Dutch PM tells Immigrants: “Act normal or go away” Washington Post. Available from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/01/23/dutch-pm-tells-immigrants-act-normal-or-go-away/ [Accessed 10 March 2017]

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