Lewis (2001) points out that the basis for ethnic and ethno-national sentiments are not just a matter of traditional hatreds, but there should also be effort to understand what cultivates these sentiments. Media portrayal has become one of the social communications. Thus, Hossein-Zadeh (2005) considers it a major vehicle of the opinions regarding the issue. Some of the major reasons that he believes that the media’s approach in presenting events and issues is centered on its personal motivations, lack of understanding and perspective of background issues as well their own personal views.
The suggestion is that what makes the headline is designed to catch the attention of the public or to sustain interest in an issue. Imai (2006) points out that there is a tendency for opinions to get out of control, because issues are often personal or have significant emotional implications, and often become foundation of extreme views of the ethnic and ethno-national issue. The issue of ethnic and ethno-national conflicts has been a focus of the media for a number of years and no other region has been cited for the phenomenon as the Middle East.
On the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York by Muslim extremist Al-Qaeda, Khouri (2007) reflects on how the issue has become a motivation, if not a justification, of conflicts with and within the Middle East. There are studies that highlight the extensive history of these conflicts that involve various ethnic and religious groups in the region (Lovgren, 2004). One can easily bring to mind the proposition that the conflict of the Crusades persists, moreover that these conflicts are fundamental can never co-exist, as suggested by Samuel P. Huntington’s clash of civilization thesis (Imai, 2006).
Which is an irony since, according to Nanda Shrestha and Kenneth Gray, there been a generally amiable relationship between the Middle East and the West for the past couple of hundred of years before the 20th century (2006). The region has become a focal point because of the significance of the region role in world economics, politics and international security. Developing peace and development for the region has been cited as a requirement to stabilize the world’s oil markets and to manage effectively trade and migration between Europe and.
A good example of an issue has been the negative sentiment of Muslims of the western countries, in particular the United States, which has brought the issue of terrorism to the forefronts of global attention. Lewis (2001) reflects that the negative image that Muslims and Americans have of each other is one that has been cultivated and reinforced over a period of time that it has become difficult to trace the origin of the sentiments.
The conflict was featured by American television reality show 30 Days, where a devout Christian David Stacy, who had expressed negative sentiments about Muslims, to live in a Muslim community for a month (Doggart, 2005). The thirty-day anthology documented Stacy’s experience living as a Muslim in the United States and a turnabout in his views about the religion. A review of the source of Stacy’s sentiments indicates that his views were highly influenced by 9-11 and subsequent stories about Muslim extremists linked to terrorist movements.
Similarly, Lewis (2001) investigation about the prevalence of Muslim “rage” is said to root from what has been seen as a deliberate and insensitive treatment of Muslim and Middle East sentiments. These include land settlement issues after the World War II, conflicts during the Cold War, economic embargoes and even the comic portrayal of Muslims and Arabs in entertainment programs. Lewis believes that issue has been made personal and used in propaganda to justify military and political action against the United States featured in popular local or state-controlled media organizations.
Imai (2006) believes that the media should not be considered as an impartial source of information since they are vulnerable to the motivations of the state, its managements and the personalities that deliver the news. Furthermore, by accepting that the conflicts are due to ideological differences, Khouri (2007) points out that many of the issues that are most critical in the Middle East. The suggestion that conflicts are based on ideological difference suggests little levity for compromise or co-existence.
Therefore, the idea of a “clash of civilization” promoted by the mass media preempts the development of real solutions. This is not to say the there are no ethnicity or culturally based conflicts. However, there should be realization that they can be considered as an encompassing explanation to the enmity that has developed between Muslims and the United States. Without a doubt, mass media has been instrumental in the liberalization of information and a vehicle to highlight the public’s sentiment.
As much as it reports public opinion it also molds it because of its prevalence and pervasiveness in modern societies. In issues related to ethnic and ethno-national sentiments, this relationship is made even more sensitive by the human interest of issues. At the same time, mass media is an enterprise, economic or otherwise and therefore has its own agenda and motivations. In conclusion, there should be realization that regardless of how truthful the media is, it presents a limited perspective of an issue.