The Legends of the “Assassins” in News Coverage of Muslims

Karim H. Karim

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Legends of the “Assassins” in News Coverage of Muslims

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The portrayal of Muslims in the news did not become salient only after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this has been a long-standing issue that has acquired increasing attention over the last few decades as the coverage of the adherents of Islam has steadily grown in American news coverage. The image of the “Islamic terrorist” has come to dominate various depictions of Muslims. It tends to take at face value the claims of some who perpetrate political violence in the name of Islam at the expense of more than a billion followers who see the religion as a source of harmony. The endless stream of depictions beginning with some of the earliest encounters of Europeans with the “Saracens” have produced a strongly embedded set of core stereotypes that make plausible depictions that would seem outrageous when applied to other groups. This article shows how the intertextual weaving of the legends of the medieval “Assassins” into contemporary American news and entertainment media draws upon and reinforces the ingrained image of the violent Muslim.

Keywords: Muslims; violence; news; stereotypes; Islam; Assassins; media

Article.  6294 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Islam

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