Most people consider Arabs to lack the capacity for scientific development. The majority considers the west to be behind all the technological progress, while in reality, all nations, including Arabs, have contributed to the progress. For instance, Muslim scholars of the Golden Age facilitated advancements in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and other branches of science. However, European imperialists of the colonial era presented foreigners as people that need their support and guidance in order to survive. The prejudice that is present today is the result of policies promoted by European imperialists. This paper will provide an overview of the issue in the context of Islam and Arabs.
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In modern contexts, Islam and the Arab world are seen as systems not compatible with the notion of progress and development. Such opinions have existed since the times of Enlightenment. For instance, major French thinkers of those ages believed people outside of Europe to be “barbarians” and nations that needed education and guidance from European imperialists (Tricoire, 2017). The accuracy of these assessments is not undisputed because they were subjective in nature. The position of Islam and the Arab nations today can be considered a result of European colonialism (Bader et al., 2011). Therefore, the adverse perception of Muslims is merely a manifestation of imperialists’ activities centuries ago.
Islam is one of the most ill-perceived ideologies in contemporary society. In some contexts, this religion is viewed as being equal to terrorism, and science is thought to be incompatible with Islamic principles (Bhutto et al., 2020). Among other issues is the fact that Islam is believed to be against democratic principles (Von Sikorski et al., 2017). While the religion has restrictions regarding dressing and that the majority of Arab states abide by these rules, it is fallacious to consider it to favor terrorism or be against democratic principles. Unfortunately, due to media framing, Arabs and other Muslims must experience such public attitudes toward them.
It is a common misconception that religion and science are contradictory. There are people who believe that Arabs have struggled with scientific progress and development because of practicing Islam (Bhutto et al., 2020). However, it is significant to indicate that Islamic teachings put emphasis on the need to acquire and foster any knowledge that would be beneficial to humans (Bhutto et al., 2020). Early Muslim scholars contributed to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. There are also examples of contemporary Muslim scientists, but whose names are rarely discussed by the global media. Such marginalization has played a critical role in forming the adverse public perception of Arabs and Islam.
Another typical attitude toward the Arab world is that the culture and religion of Arabs are not compatible with democracy. The media often focuses on how Muslim women dress and manipulates the public without discussing the privileges that women in Arab countries have. In reality, Islam is based on justice and equality between people despite differences in race, skin color, and economic background. Research states that news coverage that explicitly impairs the image of Arabs can influence public perception of Muslims (Bhutto et al., 2020). The accuracy of the presented materials should be checked individually by each person reading them.
In many contexts, people view Islam as being equal to terrorism. The media cares little to differentiate between these two notions, which has created a public perception that demonizes Muslims (Von Sikorski et al., 2017). Experiments have shown that undifferentiated news coverages that use Islam and terrorism as synonyms have the capacity to develop negative perceptions toward all Muslims (Von Sikorski et al., 2017). By facilitating the fear of terrorism and linking it to Arabs, the media has been able to convince many people that terrorism is the essence of Islam. Unfortunately, few people investigate to determine whether or not such coverages are based on true facts.
One example of when people do not differentiate between Islam and terrorism is the recent case from France. Macron, who is the president of this country, linked terrorism to this religion as a whole (Tisdall, 2020). While the beheading of the teacher is an act of terror, it is incorrect to generalize the case to entire nations and cultures (Tisdall, 2020). Unfortunately, Arabs and other Muslims should live through these times of injustice and prejudice. Only when people learn to reason critically and filter what is delivered by the media, public perceptions will change.
People consider Islam and Arab states to lack traits that would make them compatible with scientific progress and democracy. Also, most media sources do not differentiate between terrorism and Islam, which creates hostile perceptions toward Muslims. This situation can be compared to the Middle Ages when Europeans thought of others to be barbarians that lacked knowledge and culture. In both cases, their assessments were short of objective foundation and instead were based on subjective beliefs of superiority over others.
Bader, V., Maussen, M., & Moors, A. (Eds.) (2011). Colonial and post-colonial governance of Islam: continuities and ruptures. Amsterdam University Press.
Bhutto, S., Kaloi, A. R., & Bhutto, H. (2020). Is Islam against science & technology? Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 13(10), 1148-1159. Web.
Tisdall, S. (2020). Muslims’ rage at Macron threatens to escalate tensions across Europe. The Guardian. Web.
Tricoire, D. (Ed.). (2017). Enlightened colonialism: Civilization narratives and imperial politics in the age of reason. Springer.
Von Sikorski, C., Schmuck, D., Matthes, J., & Binder, A. (2017). “Muslims are not terrorists”: Islamic State coverage, journalistic differentiation between terrorism and Islam, fear reactions, and attitudes toward Muslims. Mass Communication and Society, 20(6), 825-848. Web.