Media has been considered as the key player in forming the public opinions and making the public aware about the happenings around the world. It has been noticed that media has a right to freedom and most often than not, it tends to even blind the realities and sugarcoat the news items. When it comes to identifying with a national identity, Muslim community has mostly been targeted by the media houses, more often in a negative light. However, there are still others that present the positive aspect as well. This portfolio analysis is an attempt to provide a critical discourse analysis on the representation of Muslims in Australian Media.
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To begin with the theoretical background, this paper is based on social constructionism approach to highlight the national views about the cultural identity (Jørgensen & Phillips, 2002) on Muslims. Discourse is one of the basic constructs when it comes to identifying with the multi-cultural perspectives. The discourse refers to the texts, images, audios and videos which tend to give some meaning on the context under question. In this paper, the critical discourse analysis approach is applied because it tends to take into consideration both the positive as well as the negative aspects of the discourse in order to provide for the complete and unbiased analysis (Jørgensen & Phillips, 2002).
For the analysis, apart from the journal articles the news items and the opinion and comment items have also been picked up to provide detailed review. The ABC news including newspaper and radio, The guardian, SBS News, and The conversation have been taken up for the analysis as these are among the most prominent sources of news in the Australian community.
Let me begin with the positive representation about the Muslims in the media community.
“Australian Muslims celebrated for outstanding achievements in the community” (Clarke & Renaldi, 2017)
In this Mission of Hope’s 11th annual Australian Muslim Achievement Award, the news highlights the celebrated people in the Australian Muslim Community who have dedicated their life to give back to the community. It highlighted the people like Mrs. Waizani and Bashar Krayem who worked for the welfare of the community by fighting against the oppression directed towards the community and providing community kitchen respectively.
“Report finds Sydney Muslims positive despite facing high rates of racism”
“Comment: Changing our view of Muslim Australia” (Shad, 2013)
This is a discourse of a study conducted by Western Sydney University regarding the attitude towards the Muslims. It has been reported that 57% of the Muslims face criticism and racial discrimination but despite that, more than 85% have confirmed that they share a positive relation in the community. Even 90% of the respondents claimed that they feel a sense of national identity and belongingness to the Australian Community. This shows a positive change in the attitude.
“Muslim immigration in Australia a ‘success story’, not something to fear, leaders say”
Pauline Hanson has been highlighted in this section, being blamed for creating an environment of fear and phobia for the Australians against the Muslim Immigrants. The story brings forth the result of polls regarding ban on Muslim Immigrants in Australia and the results are disappointing as it revealed that nearly 50% of the Australian support the ban.
The wordings of Ms. Pauline regarding Muslim Community:
”Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of assembly,”, “in danger of being swamped’ and “a culture and ideology incompatible with our own”
Highlight the negative sentiments while there are other leaders such as Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull acknowledge the multicultural integration and the fact that except for the original Australians, Australia now is a racial admixture, so everyone is welcome.
Turning towards the negative side of the media, here are few news items.
“Pakistan market bombing kills 24, injures 70; Sunni Islamist group LeJ claims responsibility”
(ABC News, 2015) This item shows Muslims as revengeful and a source of terrorism in the society.
“NT Chief Minister Adam Giles clarifies ‘non-Muslim’ refugees welcome comment” (Oaten, 2018)
This item is regarding the Chief Minister of Northern Territory who gave the comment of accepting the Non-Muslim refugees from Syria. Even upon further clarification after the backlash from the other political leaders, he said the he would be welcoming those who are right and those who are ‘not right’ Muslim will not be accepted.
“Racist reporting still rife in Australian media” (Ho, 2018)
This written discourse highlights the reporting by various media houses regarding the stories on Race and Ethnicity regarding Muslims. It was interesting to note that most of the stories have been negative from The Australian, Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and other media. This is followed by neutral stories and the least were the positive stories.
Other relevant news items are:
“Melbourne families of Islamic State extremists reveal terror warning signs” (Islam, 2018)
“They made it into something it’s not’: Liberal candidate resigns over anti-Muslim video” (Islam, 2018)
Even the literature and research regarding the Australian media by (Patil & Ennis, 2016) brought out that the media houses represent Muslim as they do not belong to the Australian Community. Even with respect to the Moderate Muslims, there is neutral stance and a silence in the media as they are not able to clearly identify with one side that Muslims do contribute to the community of Australia. All this in context with the Syrian and Iraq attacks and refugees, still reveal the reservations that Australian people have for the Muslim community as per the Media.
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Further, the Muslim Demonstrations in Sydney 2012 took a divergent stance in the media highlights as per the research by (Patil, 2015). The media discourses termed Muslims as good, bad, ugly and beautiful too. There were again multiple perspectives that were highlighted after the anti-Muslim YouTube video outbreak.
From the above findings and analysis, it is understood that the media houses and the public opinions vary and even become similar at instances with respect to the Muslim community and their race. There is a mixed feeling and attitude which is attached to the Muslim community owing to the attacks in Syria, refugees, immigrants and the protests too. On the top of all this, the terrorism and fear that is created by few radicals also create a negative impact on the mind of the community. Further, it is seen that the leaders have a greater role to play in this context. There are certain leaders in the Australian Political system who tend to create a negative opinion among the people about the Muslim race when it came to demonstrations by Muslims and accepting the refugees while there are still others who show a positive sign and promote openness and integration and accept the multicultural identity of the nation.
It can be concluded with the evidentiary proof given in the paper that the media need to change the attitude towards the Muslim community and work more towards the positive side as well. Taken that few radicals are there who create an atmosphere of terror but it is equal for both the Muslims as well as Non-Muslims. Therefore, creating a divide will not help resolve the issue. Hence, corrective actions need to be taken by the media and the political parties together to keep the racial integration intact in Australia.
- ABC News. (2015). Pakistan market blast kills 24, injures 70. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-14/pakistan-market-blast-kills-24,-injures-70/7024888
- Booth, A. (2016). Muslim immigration in Australia a ‘success story’, not something to fear, leaders say. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/muslim-immigration-in-australia-a-success-story-not-something-to-fear-leaders-say
- Clarke, L., & Renaldi, E. (2017). Australian Muslims celebrated for outstanding achievements. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-03/australian-muslims-celebrated-for-outstanding-achievements/9209884
- Ho, C. (2018). Racist reporting still rife in Australian media. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/racist-reporting-still-rife-in-australian-media-88957
- Islam. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/topic/islam
- Jørgensen, M., & Phillips, L. J. (2002). I the field of discourse analysis. In Discourse analysis as theory and method (pp. 1-23). London: SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781849208871
- Oaten, J. (2018). NT Chief Minister clarifies ‘non-Muslim’ refugees welcome comments. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-18/nt-chief-giles-clarifies-comments-non-muslims-refugees-welcome/7639142
- Patil, T. V. (2015). ‘You can’t have the struggle without the ugly fringe’ – Publicness in Australian National Imagination: Media representations of the Muslim demonstrations in Sydney in 2012’. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 29(1), 57–69. https://doi-org.ezproxy.federation.edu.au/10.1080/10304312.2014.964179
- Patil, T., & Ennis, G. (2016). Silence as a Discourse in the Public Sphere: Media Representations of Australians Joining the Fight in Syria. Social Alternatives, 35(1), 40-46. Retrieved from https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=243699075311595;res=IELAPA
- Shad, S. (2013). Comment: Changing our view of Muslim Australia. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/comment-changing-our-view-of-muslim-australia
- Smith, M. (2015). Report finds Sydney Muslims positive despite facing high rates of racism | Western Sydney University. Retrieved from https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/newscentre/news_centre/story_archive/2015/report_finds_sydney_muslims_positive_despite_facing_high_rates_of_racism
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