Gross disparity between Muslim attacks and US coverage of terrorism

28th Jul 2017
Gross disparity between Muslim attacks and US coverage of terrorism

Dylann Roof (pictured) who killed nine people in an African-American South Carolina received only 7.4% of all coverage relating to US terror attacks in comparison Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who killed three people received almost 20% (Photos: Charleston County Sheriff’s Office)

Hamed Chapman

Terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims in the United States are far less common that those carried out by other terrorists yet they are grossly disproportionately reported by the media, a new American study has found.

The US media covers terror attacks in the United States carried out by perpetrators described as Muslims more than five times as much as the coverage by the same media of terrorist attacks carried out by non-Muslims, according to an analysis all terrorist attacks in the US between  2011 and 2015.

Muslims were found to have committed 12.4 percent of terrorist attacks in the US during the period but received 41.4 percent of news coverage, representing a 449 percent increase in the coverage when the perpetrator was Muslim relative to acts of terrorism perpetrated by non-Muslims.

The research, carried out at Georgia State University, cited the example of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, in which three people were killed and a score wounded by two Muslim attackers, which received almost 20 percent of all coverage relating to US terror attacks in the five-year period.

In contrast, the 2012 killing of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead, an attack carried out by white nationalist Wade Michael Page, constituted just 3.8 percent of coverage. The mass shooting by Dylann Roof at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killed nine people, but received only 7.4 percent of media coverage.

The authors said their finding debunked Donald Trump’s suggestion, made in February, that the media is not reporting terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. “When President Trump asserted that the media does not cover some terrorist attacks enough, it turns out that he was correct,” they wrote.

They also questioned whether the US media was making people disproportionately fearful of Muslims. “Whether the disproportionate coverage is a conscious decision on the part of journalists or not, this stereotyping reinforces cultural narratives about what and who should be feared.”

“By covering terrorist attacks by Muslims dramatically more than other incidents, media frame this type of event as more prevalent. Based on these findings, it is no wonder that Americans are so fearful of radical Islamic terrorism. Reality shows, however, that these fears are misplaced.”

The research entitled “Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?” studied US newspaper coverage of every terrorist attack on American soil between 2011 and 2015, and counted up the total number of articles dedicated to each attack.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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