Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

Muslim life in the United States; post 9/11 portrayal and representation

13 years ago, the United States of America suffered an attack orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda. 13 years ago changed America’s global image and impacted on the life’s of all those affected by this unthinkable event. 13 years ago was the year the 9/11 attacks on America became a ‘JFK moment’ as people recall exactly where they were at the time those heart wrenching camera images were beamed around the world for all to see America fall on home soil.

islam murder          However tear jerking those stories that emerged of heroes who lost their life’s in the fight to save others or the overall impact it had on the global economy and family members of loved ones lost, there is a particularly large impact on a religious group that does not seem to be as high profile but whose representation and portrayal has changed forever due to the events of 9/11.

If you asked people in America about Ramadan and Sharia Law before the attacks on 9/11, the vast majority would look on with a blank confused expression. However, the events of 9/11 have prompted people to look into Islamic religious rulings and moral codes to try and gauge what role religion played during the attacks.

With the American people showing ever increasing interest in Muslims since the attacks on America, it was inevitable that this would change the way Muslims would be viewed not only in the United States, but also in those countries with an increasing Muslim population such as the United Kingdom.

Since the attacks, a fundamental amount of research into the psychology of Muslims and how the psychology of Muslims has being affected by physical and verbal abuse by American citizens has surfaced. Furthermore, Muslims post 9/11 are receiving more press and media coverage than ever before in America, not to mention the legislation and political influence that has contributed to targeting Muslim immigrants.

Since the attacks on 9/11, Americans with favourable views of Islam has decreased dramatically from 41% in 2005 to 30% in 2010. The change in statistics may be linked to the increasing psychological problems Muslims are suffering post 9/11. Before 9/11, psychological perspectives towards Muslims were rarely monitored in the United States . However since the years have passed since the events of 9/11, more and more surveys and research has being carried out to bring to light the problems many Muslims experience due to their race. Islamophobia itself has spread across the nation with the likes of Ben Affleck and ‘Real Time’ host Bill Maher arguably battling out this discussion live on air proving not all Americans are against the religion of Islam.


Ben Affleck takes Bill Maher’s opinions seriously

Arab-Americans in New York City are especially vulnerable to racist abuse and attacks as this is the home of those attacks . Psychologist Mona Amer who carried out the research on Muslims mental health post 9/11 states that;.

“There are things that are said in the media about Arabs and Muslims that would never be tolerated or said about any other group. You receive constant messages about how your community is full of terrorists, ignorant people, oppressive people.”

In a 2009 study of 102 New York Muslims published in Traumatology (Vol. 15, No. 3), psychologist Abu-Ras found that hate-fuelled incidents were common. 25% of participants reported verbal assaults, 22% reported workplace discrimination, 19% reported unprovoked interrogation by government agents and 19% reported physical assaults.

The media’s representation of Muslims has not only driven up the amount of Muslims that are suffering psychologically due to their current portrayal in society, but the influence the media has also had on the government and the actions that have derived from the medias influence.

Post 9/11 has witnessed countless media surges creating a kind of ‘paranoia society’. The media coverage of 9/11 has targeted the fear of society and it can also be said that their has being an over exaggeration in the capabilities of Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda in order to attract viewers, sell newspapers, magazines etc . The media during 9/11 was strict in what they published. They published topics that would get the American citizens scared or angry in order to draw a much larger audience. However, during this period, secret prisons holding innocent Muslims as prisoners were known by the media but according to a major American newspaper editor,

“We wouldn’t publish it even if we knew”


A Muslim through the eyes of your average  American Media outlet

A Muslim through the eyes of your average American Media outlet

The one of the most surprising media stories to come out years after the attacks on NYC was the introduction of the “International Burn a Quran Day” which was organized by Pastor Terry Joneson in Florida . This event on social media sites such as Facebook received thousands of likes and was covered greatly across the United States with the pastor himself being invited onto CNN for an interview. Muslim Americans were however rarely offered air time to express their opinions on the matter and the matter of how the majority of society is evidently anti-Muslim.

However, 9/11 was not the start of the negative portrayal of Muslims in the west. A paper published in 2010 by sociology professor Nurrullah of Alberta University analyses the Hollywood television series “24”. The analysis taken from the show portrays stereotypical images of Muslims which exacerbates the ‘Otheringprocess’ of Muslim Americans . The paper claims that cultural clash between the West and the Muslim world is not a new phenomenon. Islam and Muslims are historically looked down upon by the West .

The negative portrayal of Muslims in the media began after the World War II with the development of sophisticated media technology. There is no doubt that the negative media influence by the west after 9/11 has portrayed worldwide Muslims and Islam in an even darker picture but 9/11 aside, the negative portrayal of Muslims was already set in stone with some westerners.


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This entry was posted on December 8, 2014 by in Uncategorized, Vol 2, 2014/15.
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