The Role of Media versus Islamophobia and Disinformation
In the studies carried out on Eurocentrism, it has been revealed that, by positioning itself to the center, the West's tendency to determine the societies it faces as it wishes them to be has a long history dating back centuries. In particular, this superior attitude, which sees itself as the 'master' and the other as a 'slave', can see in itself the right to evaluate and judge any society in the world according to its own standards! This orientalist attitude that the West has developed over the past centuries has turned into Islamophobia by gaining a much different dimension today.
There has been a fairly large international literature on the concept of Islamophobia, which was first used in a report published in 1997. When the studies carried out in this field are examined, it is seen that the concept of Islamophobia has become a much bigger problem today. Islamophobia, especially in Western societies, has gone beyond anti-Islamism and has turned into hatred of Islam and even hostility towards Islam. While attacks against mosques and masjids are carried out in the West, women wearing headscarves are harassed, and our holy book, the Qur'an, is tried to be destroyed, slanders against our Prophet are being made.
Anti-Semitism, which is described as hostility towards Jewish people in Western societies, is seen as a crime. Antisemitism draws attention as one of the most sensitive issues in the West, both in the publications made at universities and in the media. In this regard, legal infrastructures have been established in many countries. However, in the face of this, it is seen that there is no legal regulation regarding hate speech against the religion of Islam, and efforts are made to normalize hate speech. In this context, attacks against the holy places of Islam and Muslims are tried to be presented within the framework of freedom of expression. However, at no time in history can defamations to the sacred be seen as freedom of expression. Defaming a person's faith, language, race, skin color, or sacred cannot be a freedom of expression.
Islamophobia is not only produced in the political arena in the West. It is not possible to talk about a situation limited to a political discourse developed by extreme right-wing and racist parties. At the beginning of the areas where Islamophobia is produced, there are structures that present themselves with their democratic identities and control the mass media. For many years, serious academic studies have been carried out to show that Hollywood cinema has become an ideological tool. It has been demonstrated with examples in the scientific field that Hollywood's efforts to define Islam through the stereotypes it has created, especially since the 2000s, have systematically turned into a mechanism that produces Islamophobia. In addition, Islamophobic approaches are openly featured in the Western media. In the contents produced in the media or academia, non-Western cultures and societies are presented as backward, outdated and anti-modern structures. With the publications aimed at marginalized Muslim society, it is tried to create the perception that Islam is a warlike culture that produces violence. As a result of this negative perception produced in the media, some prohibitive practices against Muslims are tried to be brought to the agenda in different countries.
This hate speech produced in traditional media has evolved to a very different point with the spread of social media. One of the most effective areas where Islamophobia is produced in our age has been social media. The fact that social media reaches wider circles much faster is one of the main motivations of the attacks carried out in this area. Now, false content produced in traditional media is tried to be delivered to all over the world by means of social media. The digital world has become a weapon of the struggle against Islam in the West. In the digital world, a very systematic disinformation activity is carried out against Islam and Muslims. Content that has nothing to do with reality is spread on social media and used to increase hatred of Islam. Disinformation has become one of the most important problems in our age. Disinformation, which prevents the society from reaching accurate information, manipulates the behavior of individuals, is used by certain groups as a tool to control the masses, and is used by terrorist organizations to create an atmosphere of chaos, shakes the ground of truth.
For this reason, we, as the Radio and Television Supreme Council, organized two important events together with our stakeholders in order to create a media order that can prevent disinformation about Islam and ensure the dissemination of accurate information, especially in the Western geography, against hate speech developed in both traditional and digital media. With the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Presidency of Communications, we organized the 2nd International Media and Islamophobia Forum together as Radio and Television Supreme Council, Presidency of Religious Affairs, Erciyes University and Ankara Science University. In the sessions, how hate speech is produced by mass media and what should be done against this media order were discussed in detail.
To draw attention to disinformation, which has become one of the most important problems in traditional and digital media, and to the consciously made distortion of the truth, we held a workshop on "Combating Disinformation in Audiovisual Media" in cooperation with the Radio and Television Supreme Council and the International Media Information Association. In this workshop, the work to be done against disinformation was discussed. In the workshop, it was especially emphasized that official institutions, technology companies, non-governmental organizations, scientists and journalists should work together in the fight against disinformation.
As RTÜK, we will continue to struggle against the communication problems of the era we live in, within the framework of our duty and responsibility, to identify the problem and to propose solutions. We will continue our efforts to take an active role in the fight against Islamophobia and disinformation by having the most respected and powerful media organizations in the world. Just as the media has played an active role in transforming Islamophobia into almost a routine of daily life, an active effort should be spent on the falseness of these perceptions and how a correct perception of Islam should be. The positive results of these activities can only be possible with the accuracy of the sources we feed and the effectiveness of the language we use. We cannot prevent the hatred of Islam and its believers, whose dosage is increasing day by day, otherwise.
PRESIDENT OF THE RADIO AND TELEVISION SUPREME COUNCIL
(This article was published on Saturday, 23rd of April, 2022 on Sabah News, to read it please click.)
Publication Date: 25.04.2022