Three American Muslims were shot next to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States on Tuesday. A 46-year old man turned himself in to the police and has been charged with the murder of the three students. He was identified by the authorities as Stephen Hicks. His Facebook page contained Islamophobic posts and a specific quote from comedian Bill Maher criticizing Islam.
While Twitter and Facebook were flooded with posts talking about their murder, mainstream media was relatively quiet on the onset; a stark contrast to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Immediately after the attacks in Paris, the vast majority of news sources reported the horrific attacks – as they should. However, after the Chapel Hill attacks, most of mainstream media was quiet.
— Bipartisan Report (@Bipartisanism) February 11, 2015
The first major news source to report the event was The Independent, some two hours later. FOX News, which has been filling the minds of its listeners with relentless Islamophobic discourse, only reported the attack in a small passing headline in the bottom corner of the website, while the front page was predominantly filled with fear instilling news about the indoctrinating recruitment of the Islamic State. The headline failed to mention that the victims were Muslim.
This is the same FOX News that had an “expert analyst” talking about the spread of radical Islam and how there were certain areas in the UK and Europe where non-Muslims would not be allowed in and Sharia law was violently enforced. Any logical, thinking mind would immediately debunk this statement, but the majority of FOX viewers are not. Expectedly, the channel issued an apology and even then it contained undertones of the onset of an Islamic threat. This is definitely not the first time hate crimes against Muslims have been brushed under the carpet. Islamophobic attacks in the west have been on the rise in the last two years in the West and very few mainstream sources discuss it. According to TELL MAMA, a campaign shedding light on attacks on Muslims in the UK, hate crimes against Muslims have risen by 5-10%. T ELL MAMA also reports that between 2013 and 2014, there have been 734 hate crimes against Muslims. 40% of the attacks were linked to far right hate groups. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, firebombs and pigs heads were thrown into mosques in Paris according to The Independent. Twenty-Six mosques were vandalized following the terrorist attack. In a school in the French Alps, a Muslim boy was viciously beaten after a minute’s silence was observed for the victims of the Hebdo attack according to Haaretz.
Europe has been brimming with anti-Muslim protests and rallies organized by racist far right parties. 25,000 people went to the streets in Dresden, Germany just last month against the spread of Islam and the Islamization of the West. It was dominated with Islamophobic banners and posters. In countries such as France, Austria and the Netherlands, anti-Islam parties have been gaining undeniable popularity with all of them posting their best results in their respective parliaments according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Chapel Hill attacks did not prompt breaking news, public condemnation, mass calls for all Americans to apologize or alerting headlines to the murderer’s ideologies and it’s not hard to figure out why. A Muslim being maliciously killed in cold blood as part of a religious hate crime doesn’t serve well for a media that has been subconsciously diverting the minds of its viewers to hold an orientalist point of view of the Middle East and Muslims.
“Were the tides turned, and a Muslim shot three innocent Americans, it’d be unequivocally guaranteed that the degree of interest from the media would remarkably rise”
Directing attention towards the murders would ruin an overwhelming amount of work. They want to depict Muslims as a backward, inherently violent people threatening the Western way of life, a clash of civilizations that would ultimately destroy the western world and showing great interest in the murders of three innocent Muslim students who were collecting money to provide dental care for Syrian refugees simply does not help. The majority of the Western mainstream media have been feeding their viewers with an onslaught of reports on ISIS monstrosities, while doing little effort in differentiating between a terrorist and a Muslim. Reporting on Mosques being vandalized or Muslims being attacked would be a direct change of narrative – one they do not wish to take.
Were the tides turned, and a Muslim shot three innocent Americans, it’d be unequivocally guaranteed that the degree of interest from the media would remarkably rise. There would be FOX News reports on the rise of radical Islam with continued negligence on the backlash of attacks on Muslims that would ensue as a result.