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Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Muslims have become victims of hate crimes because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that link them to terrorism. According to various academic research publications, counter terrorist groups and other Muslim groups including the Metropolitan police, there were about 962 Islamophobic offenses in London in early 2009 (Umbreit, Lewis, & Burns, 2003).
Prior research indicates that Americans perceive Muslims negatively because the media consistently associates Muslims with the violent activities of terrorism and other civil wars in the Middle East region (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). The consistent association of Muslims with violent acts and terrorism has led development of stereotypes among Americans, which portray Muslims as people who do not value human dignity and peace (Umbreit, Lewis, & Burns, 2003).
Thus, the media influences how Americans perceive Muslims and consequently commit hate crimes. Therefore, this research paper will discuss and analyze various beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that make individuals to support hate crimes directed at the Muslim community. Furthermore, the paper will discuss how the media shapes beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions about Muslims and terrorism, and thus causes Americans to conduct hate crimes against Muslims.
Problem or Objective
The main objective of this research paper is to assess and analyze some of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that make Americans and other groups to associate the Muslim community with violence and terrorism. Moreover, the paper aims at analyzing how the media influence perceptions of Muslims among Americans by linking Muslims with acts of violence and terrorism, which normally emanate from the Middle East.
To come up with a comprehensive report, the paper will discuss and give some examples of hate crimes and terrorist activities that have happened in the Middle East and America after the September 11, 2001. In this view, the paper will analyze how Americans perceive Muslims in relation to terrorism and hate crimes. To elucidate the relationship between hate crimes and terrorism, the paper will use survey as research design.
The study will administer questionnaires to various Americans to provide information about their beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions in relation to Muslims and their association with terrorism and hate crimes. Various theories of hate crime and terrorism indicate that political violence and acts of terrorism are very common in the Middle East (Bonino, 2012). Hence, it is evident that terrorism and hate crimes are common in the Middle East.
According to British largest mainstream Muslim organization, there have been Islamophobic attacks and hate crime against the Muslim community, which have been increasing as evidenced by constant assaults on Muslims and vandalisms of mosques (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010).
Although there has been an increase in the number of hate crimes and violence, it is clear from various previous researches that very few of these acts have been reported to the police (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). According to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the minority Muslim community is 42 times more likely to be a victim Terrorism Act than other minorities (McCorkell, 2011).
In April 2009, 762 Islamophobic offenses were reported to the Metropolitan Police in London when compared to the 333 offenses that were reported at 2010/2011 (McCorkell, 2011). Furthermore, reports from two police officers in the United Kingdom indicate that around 1,200 anti-Muslim crimes were reported in 2010, while only 546 anti-Semitic crimes were reported in the same year (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). Since the cases of hate crimes reported among Muslims are high, it indicates that they experience high rates of hate crimes.
The cases of hate crimes are not only common among adult people, but also common among children. According to Sandoval, Lysiak, & Scharpiro (2011), a fellow student beat a 13-year-old Muslim girl because she was wearing a headscarf, which he and his classmates believed to be a sign of terrorism.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), about 1,700 cases of hate crimes against Muslims were reported in the year 2002 (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). The cases of hate crimes in American are higher than in the United States, which means that Americans perceive Muslims as terrorists, and thus direct hate crimes at them.
Ample evidence shows that the increase in cases of hate crimes against Muslims has been due to negative stereotypes of Muslims in the media, especially among the communities of Muslims in the Middle East (Craig-Henderson, & Brown-Sims, 2004).). In some social places such as schools, markets, buses, planes, and even political meetings, hate crimes and negative attitudes towards Muslims are usually very common (Bayoumi, 2011). This means that Muslims are not safe in social places because they are prone to hate crimes against them.
Although hate crimes against Muslims emanate from terrorist activities such as September 11, 2001, propaganda spread by the media has continued to paint Muslims negatively. According to the FBI report, in 2010 and 2011, hate crimes against Muslims increased up to 50% due to the anti-Muslim propaganda (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). This shows that there is less reporting of hate crimes by the public to the police.
Other studies estimate that the real number of Muslims who are victims of hate crimes range from 3,000 to 5,000 (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010; Falcone, 2006). Although cases of hate crimes reported increase, Muslims still have some reservations as they claim that Christians perceive their struggles against hate crimes as a means of enhancing their dominance (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). In this view, the Muslim community usually fears reporting hate crime to the police because most of them are Christians.
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The social media has a significant influence on beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which associate Muslims with terrorism. The negative publicity of Muslims has compelled Muslims to come out and defend their religion strongly in a bid to dissociate themselves from terrorism and acts of violence (Love, 2009).
One incident that illustrates the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims is in the report of the Niagara Regional Police, where a 16-year-old girl was charged for assaulting a 17-year-old Muslim girl on her way from the Mosque (Carr, 2011).
The incident is not an isolated case because hate crimes are common in Canada. Owing to the prevalence of hate crimes in the United Kingdom, campaigns against hate crimes have aided in reducing their occurrence. The murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich did pave the way for massive campaigns against hate crimes (Tasker, 2012). Hence, Muslims hope that the campaigns would help in reversing the trends of hate crimes against them.
- What are the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that correlate with individual support for hate crimes directed at the Muslim community post September 11, 2001?
- How does the media shape perceptions of Americans about Muslims and makes them to commit hate crimes?
Subject for Study
In this research paper, the subjects of study are students in schools and a few adults present in social gatherings. The study aims to collect beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that Americans has regarding hate crimes directed at Muslims in various schools and other social gatherings.
The victims of hate crimes are important in the study because they provide firsthand experience of hate crimes (Zahedi, 2011). In this view, the study will also target students who are victims of hate crimes. Students and members of general experience are important subjects of study because they have at least witnessed cases of hate crimes in social gatherings.
As the study deals with human subjects, the study will administer informed consent in compliance with ethical principles of research (Ahmad, 2004). Moreover, the study will guarantee confidentiality of the information obtained from participants. Given that hate crimes is a sensitive issue among people, the study will approach participants professionally with great caution lest some get angry and vent their frustrations on researchers.
Since the study is a correlational study, it seeks to establish the existence of correlation between two different variables. One variable comprises of social factors that make Americans to support hate crimes against Muslims. These social factors are beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which tend to associate Muslims with terrorism and acts of violence. The second variable is the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims.
From the literature review, it is evident that the Muslim community fears reporting hate crimes committed towards them, since the police rarely take them seriously (Kwan, 2008). Thus, the study will establish the prevalence of hate crimes among Muslims with the objective of correlating them with the social factors that contribute to their occurrence among Muslims.
The study will use metaanalysis and survey as research designs. Metaanalysis will aid in the analysis of secondary data from various sources. In the collection secondary data, the FBI’s hate crime reports will provide valuable information and statistics relating to hate crime against Muslims.
Besides the FBI’s reports, Muslim websites will also provide data that depict the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims. Additionally, the study will collect primary data using survey administered to the participants. The study expects participants to provide their beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions regarding the relationship between Muslims and terrorism. The questionnaire that the study will employ in conducting the survey has the following questions:
- In your opinion, what do you think has led to the increase in cases of hate crimes and violent activities?
- Have you been involved in any hate crime act in the last six months?
- In your opinion, who should bear the blame for hate crime and terrorism?
- How can you rate the level of terrorism and violent activities taking place in the Middle East?
- How do the Americans conduct hate crimes against the Muslim community?
- Do you think the Muslims are responsible for current activities of terrorists as the media claim?
- What is your attitude and belief towards the Muslim community?
The literature review indicates that there is a close association between Muslims and terrorism. Following the events of September 11, 2001, Americans started to associate Muslims with terrorism, which provided a platform for the media to spread beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that paints Muslims negatively (Choudhury, & Fenwick, 2011).
In this view, the study hypothesizes that Americans have a negative perspective about Muslims because the media constantly portrays violent acts of terrorism and civil wars within the Middle East, and thus making Americans to associate violence and terrorism with Muslims. Hence, the study will analyze data collected from the survey to establish if beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that Americans have about Muslims relate to the support of hate crimes.
It is expected that beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that perceive Muslims negatively in relation to terrorism contribute to the hate crimes. On contrast, presence of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that perceive Muslims positively in relation to terrorism reduces the occurrence of hate crimes. Thus, the survey will provide beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions of Americans, and so give social factors that make them commit hate crimes against Muslims.
Moreover, the research will examine secondary sources with a view of obtaining statistics about the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims in various parts of the world. The prevalence of hate crimes is important because it depicts the gravity of the crime and experiences that Muslims undergo.
Given that many cases of hate crimes are unreported due to negligence on the part of the authorities and criminal justice system, FBI’s statistics are essential for analysis of prevalence of hate crimes. Sandoval, Lysiak, and Scharpiro (2011) reports that the girl endured hate crimes for a long period because school officials ignored her when she reported. Hence, the analysis of secondary sources to establish the actual prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims is necessary in the study of hate crimes.
The study will also seek to associate the negative publicity of Muslims with hate crimes. In this view, the study with an attempt to correlate the presence of social factors such as beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions with the prevalence of hate crimes. The study assumes that the media shapes beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that associate Muslims with terrorism.
Essentially, what makes Americans to commit hate crimes against Muslims emanate from the beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that the media has imposed on them. Portrayal of the Muslims as potential terrorists has compelled them not to report cases of hate crimes that they experience.
The negative portrayal of Muslims has led them shy away from reporting any form of hate crimes committed against them because they fear the police would not listen to them (Phillips, & Moore, 2009). Moreover, the constant negative publicity of Muslims creates stereotypes that make them vulnerable to hate crimes in wherever they work or travel. Therefore, analysis of the roles that media play in influence beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions is essential.
From the research paper, it is clear that the negative attitudes and beliefs that the Americans have against the Muslims are to some extent supported by the way the media associate the Muslim community with violence and terrorism.
Additionally, from the paper, it is evident that despite the prevalence of hate crimes in the Muslim community, Muslims do not report them because they are afraid that the police would ignore. Therefore, the paper suggests that to reduce hate crimes directed at Muslims, the criminal justice system should focus on creating a peaceful relationship between the Muslims and the Americans.
Given that the media shapes the beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that associate Muslims and terrorism, it should use its power to demystify stereotypes that have made Americans to commit hate crimes against Muslims. In this view, if the media and Americans eliminate stereotypes that they have about Muslims and terrorism, hate crimes would not only disappear in America, but also across the world.
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