The Psychological Influence of Media on Muslims

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Kabah, Media, Muslims Views: 7539

The director of "2012" made an explanation about why he didn't destroy the Kaba in his movie. At first, I thought his explanation would be mind stimulating, a sort of statement that would enable people to think deeply. Here is what he says: "Well, I wanted to do that... but my co-writer Harald [Klosser] said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this. You can actually ... let ... Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab [Islamic] symbol, you would have ... a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is." After reading this, I was completely disappointed about the simplicity of his response.

It would have been more thoughtful if the director said something positive that pleases the Muslim community. For instance, he could have said something like "I understand that Kaaba is very sacred place for Muslims. I didn't want to hurt the feelings of ordinary Muslims as well as provoking the radical ones." To me, that would be more intelligent and mediator sort of approach. The problem is anyone who reads his actual explanation will come to think that Muslims in general are the followers of a violent religion and we just have to put up with that because of politically correctness or fear of terrorist attacks. This doesn't help anything except for causing frustration in the West and sorrowful feelings for ordinary, peaceful Muslims. We know that Islam is a peaceful religion but when he says "I do not want a fatwa over my head", it will definitely put negative thoughts about the Islamic religion on readers' minds. A death fatwa given by an extremist doesn't reveal the views of the entire Muslim community. In fact, we sincerely condemn violence. 

The American Catholic is an online religious magazine which reflected resentment in its comments about the making of movie 2012. According to this magazine, Hollywood is too kind to Muslims by not destroying Kaba in the movie although they destroyed the Christian symbols. Of course, the article showed Islamic extremism as being a true face of the religion. It also claimed that while Hollywood produced movies like "Last Temptation of Christ" in which Jesus was degraded, it also produced "The Message" which flattered Islam. The movie honored the Islamic tradition by not depicting Prophet Muhammad. Unfortunately, the article misinformed the readers in numerous ways. First of all, depiction of a prophet is unacceptable in Islamic religion but this is not restricted to the Prophet Muhammad; indeed it includes all prophets such as Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. Secondly, The Message was not produced by Hollywood. Mustapha Akkad, the director and producer of the movie had to find financial sponsors outside The United States since Hollywood didn't want to produce this movie. 

We need to examine social psychology in Islamic nations because in most cases, violent demonstrations have psychological roots. For instance, When Danish press released cartoons degrading Prophet Muhammad; Muslims across the globe reacted violently. Western people could not understand the logic behind the violent massive demonstrations. Muslims were so offended because the cartoons showed the degradation of the most revered man in their lives. In an interview, a Pakistani man said" we respect all the prophets and they also should respect our prophet". Indeed, Islam places great importance of Major Prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. It is extremely sinful to speak disrespectfully about them-let alone drawing- cartoons of them. 

In some Islamic countries, they disrespect Jewish people by drawing offensive cartoons of Jewish Rabbis and that is something to condemn indeed. It is an inappropriate act for Muslims drawing ugly cartoons of Rabbis. Nevertheless, I don't see any point of attacking Prophet Muhammad since such action will upset the feelings of all Muslims. In defense of cartoons, a French journalist said that "If they have a right to come to our countries to bomb our subways, we should also have a right to draw cartoons of Muhammad." This sort of perspective does not help to solve issues. Just because Islamic extremists are engaged in terrorist acts, do the peaceful Muslim majority have to pay the price? Like any other foreign travelers, most Muslims travel to Europe just for pleasure, not for violence. And this statement can easily be proven by statistical facts.

The perception of Danish cartoons had a negative psychological impact on Muslim minds. Since perception involves psychological response, the way something is perceived plays an important role. From an Islamic perspective, the worst offense I can think of is to depict "God" in a movie. Hollywood produced movies like "Oh God" in which George Burns played as God and "Evan Almighty" showed Morgan Freeman acting as God. In Islam, this is a major sin since the God is unseen and He is incomprehensible by human minds. We just acknowledge that He is All-Powerful. But did Muslims show any reaction to those movies? Not at all! Why not? That is because the name "Allah" was not used in those movies. But that should not make any difference since Islam is the strictest religion in monotheism. Different cultures may have various names for God but there is only one God and clearly those movies were referring to the one God. Still Muslims were not offended by those movies because they didn't feel like they were targeted. This example proves that it isn't the Islamic law that compels them to react but psychological factors which motivate narrow-minded Muslims to act violently like they did in the cartoon crisis. The proper reaction for Muslims who are against such offensive movies is simply not to watch them. Violent demonstrations are not acceptable form of reaction. 

In Midnight Express, Turks were terribly depicted in the movie. Interestingly, the actual person, in whom the movie was based on, Billy, stated that the movie didn't reflect reality. He said on YouTube video that he would love to go to Turkey but he just worries about some Turkish nationalists' reaction because of his involvement in Midnight Express. In my opinion, he should travel to Istanbul and Turkish people should welcome him with hospitality in order to settle things. That would truly put an end to the terrible image which Midnight Express still imposes on Turkish people. People who know Turkey certainly considered Midnight Express as an unfortunate movie. Yilmaz Guney, a famous Kurdish film director, stated that Midnight Express was a racist movie despite the fact that he had major issues with the Turkish government. 

Violence and Islam cannot come together since Islam means peace. Western media should be more sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of Muslim community. At the same time, Islamic community should take more scientific approach to deal with its own internal problems. Social psychologists, psychiatrists, historians, theologians and other intellectuals should gather to discuss about how to convert the contemporary Muslims from emotionally driven people to rational thinking community.


Ugur Alkan writes articles on various topics. He has a B.A. in Communicaton and MBA in Management from Fort Hays State University.

  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Kabah, Media, Muslims
Views: 7539

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Older Comments:
The issue at hand is "Freedom to insult or Freedom against insult". Muslims are for "Freedom against insult". The mischief makers are asking for absolute freedom of expression which includes "Freedom to insult". No society or constitution of any country in the world provides freedom to insult. Imagine a society where anyone can insult anyone. Can such a society last long??
The author wants muslims to react rationally when they are insulted. It is important to point out that most of the muslims did that in the cartoon crisis. Otherwise imagine 1 billion muslims turning violent.This article is pointing otherwise. It has fallen into the pitfall dug by the media that muslims dont think rationally and are violent.The proof is that the author is stating again and again Islam means peace. Such apolegetic talk can only soothe the ears who are blaming muslims after creating the mischief themselves. It looks like Muslims are guilty of reacting to an insult.

enen though i didn't read the whole article i do get a general jist of it and i am with the director. i don't think most muslims realize that it is not fair to play religious favorites. if judaism, scientology, christiianity can be backlash so can islam. what makes them think that their religion should be treated with a higher respect than others. i personally feel like the muslims get too much favortism in american politics and pop culture. for the catholic church to have made that comment concerning islam in hollywood you have to feel that they to where hurt when their religious symbols are desecrated but islam can't have their if not they would have a fatwa. the other day i heard that an iSlam app for apple was taken of because it might "offend" some people. why is islam the only religion that can't be slandered without any political mayhem but yet judaism and christianity can. don't you think that is playing favortism. is not like christians like their relgious symbols desecrated but why is it that islam can't be either. when more and more situations like this take place is causes the religion to be backlash more often than needed. muslims should really think of how their attitudes affect the other people around them instead of just them alone. and i agree with roland emmerich if he had done that he would already be dead. by the way i'm a christian.

To Romesh Chander
God expects mankind to learn Islam and love islam. Muslims love laws of God and not man made laws. Muslims don't tell you to love Islam but tell you to love laws of god. Shun alchohol, shun interest(riba), shun gay marriage etc., all these against nature: to take care of the planet earth and not doing any harm. Man's greediness has lead to the global warming. WHY PEOPLE LIKE YOU HAVE STOPPED THINKING.

Attn: Romesh Chander.
I do not hate you, nor I do suspect do most Muslims who understand their faith. According to my understanding, you are a fellow son of Adham (R.A.) & a potential inhabitant of Jannah (Paradise).
However, I do sometimes strongly dislike the views you express, that is diffferent from hating you as a human being.
Salam / Peace

From the Article:
"In defense of cartoons, a French journalist said that 'If they have a right to come to our countries to bomb our subways, we should also have a right to draw cartoons of Muhammad.' "

That is the most ridiculous argument in defense of those cartoons I've ever heard. Since when does anyone have the "right" to bomb subways or civilian infrastructure? If anyone does such a thing, they are considered criminals and "terrorists", so his analogy is incredibly stupid here!

No, noone has that "right", and you shouldn't have the "right" to degrade what is sacred to others as well. Muslims don't allow themselves to depict the Prophets or Angels, so that should be respected.

Let muslims not watch the movie; then it will have no effect on muslims. I (a non-muslim) won't watch it, because it has nothing of interest for me.

Stop being a cry baby. Nobody has to love you. If you expect everybody to love muslims and Islam, then you people are insane. I don't expect ANYBODY to love me; rather there are a lot of people who just plainly hate me; I just ignore them and go my merry way.

Yes, let me repeat, if you, muslims, expect everybody to love you or Islam, then you people are insane. Get real. This is not Heaven; it is planet earth.

A clear explanation of the irrational response of our nation.