The American Muslim community matters

Hiba Ahmad
Contributing Columnist

Mainstream media has failed the American Muslim population once again. In a nation that prides itself on being a melting pot of hundreds of cultures, ethnicities and religions, its representation of the diverse community is lackluster.

On Feb. 10, three Muslim students were shot and killed in their North Carolina home. Reah Barakat, Yusur Abu-Salha and Rezan Abu-Salha were slain execution style in their home on the outskirts of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s campus. The story eventually broke Wednesday morning, but solely across social media. Articles popped up across Twitter and Facebook feeds and soon enough two Twitter hashtags appeared: #MuslimLivesMatter and #JusticeForMuslims. However, major news agencies like CNN, BBC and The Washington Post had still not made an effort to cover the topic.

Uproar over the bigotry of American media erupted not only across the nation, but also throughout the world. This is not the first time American media has denounced Muslims.

This past summer, the conflict between Palestine and Israel monopolized television screens and front pages of newspapers. Most headlines presented a view that criticized the actions of Palestine and its government for the conflict when in reality it was their citizens who were suffering the most at the hands of Hamas and Israeli forces. The Muslim community fought back with protests that broke out across the globe, which slammed media conglomerates for not only their lack of coverage, but also their lack of humanity.

CNN welcomed a family friend of Barakat on Tuesday and had him speak about the individuals who were lost. I was horrified to see that after a short seven minute segment, CNN broadcast an in-depth conversation about the controversial movie American Sniper. That was not the only time that this atrocity has been belittled and Islamophobia blatantly displayed by major news outlets. Massive headlines discussing Obama’s request for military action against ISIS overtook any mention of the shooting.

Murders committed by minorities are more important to news agencies than murders of those minorities. If it doesn’t fit their narrative, they ignore disaster.

It’s disheartening to see that when minorities are brutally stripped of their lives only a small blurb of information is mentioned. The lives of three American Muslim citizens had been brushed off and the news was focused again on topics that have been discussed for weeks now.

American media has been crumbling over the years. With an almost 50 percent drop in advertisement revenue in the past decade, along with a drastic decrease in viewer ratings for broadcasts, many newspapers and news channels were forced to shut down. The sad reality is that, with the increased pressure to produce stories that will increase revenue, news agencies have focused their energy on covering stories that will please their viewers. When the focus is diverted to making money over reporting the truth, stories like Barakat and Abu-Salha’s are overlooked.

As citizens, we need to take back control over what we want covered in our media. When we come across a story that we believe is news worthy and deserves attention, we must take to our sources of communication and make sure our ideas and voices are heard.

As of today, a multitude of major news outlets have addressed the shooting and it is because of the efforts of every day students. Nationwide, college campuses (including VCU) hosted vigils to show solidarity with those affected in North Carolina. The outcry of voices of support and encouragement further pushed news outlets to direct their attention to the shooting. This is not only a win for the American Muslim community, but an accomplishment for the entire nation.

The worldwide protests that took place in support of Palestine won the media’s attention. The protests in Ferguson, Missouri grabbed CNN by the headlines and now the vigils that have lit up college campuses across the nation are demanding mainstream outlets for attention. We will continue to force our media to broadcast information that we want to know, not what they want us to know.

1 Comment

  1. Great Article you said the Truth the media had to stop ignoring minoritie's pain and the media had to stop feeding the hate and ignite fire
    all life's matters this country great of all its elements and components our black brothers and sisters it took a while till they got recognize and we are heading that way to knock some sense in some ignorant people who does not think beyond their own interest
    great job great article

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