American Newspaper Coverage of Islam in the Arab World

Philip Seib

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

 American Newspaper Coverage of Islam in the Arab World

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Going back to the earliest days of the American republic, the Muslims, particularly those from the Arab world, have been described in most coverage by U.S. newspapers as a vaguely menacing place, with values and cultures often depicted as antithetical to those of the United States. Islam itself has often been portrayed as an archaic religious and political force that has consigned the Arab world to backwardness. Anti-Muslim sentiment developed early, as eighteenth-century American religious leaders such as Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards denounced Islam and the prophet Mohammed. News organizations, like the entertainment media, grasp at stereotypes. Just as the nomadic, camel-borne Arab and later the “Muslim terrorist” have become stock characters in film, television, and novels, so too do the news media often reduce their coverage themes to simplistic formulae. That many in the news media believed that Islam and violence are interconnected is evidence of flawed journalism. The truth is that the vast majority of Muslims find terrorism reprehensible.

Keywords: Muslims; Islam; Arab world; United States; terrorism; newspapers; news media; stereotypes; anti-Muslim sentiment

Article.  5105 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Islam

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