Immediately after any incidence of terrorist activity, the mainstream media's immediate reaction - pointing the finger towards Muslim extremist groups - shows the media's inherent bias against the Muslims.
Terror intimidates Muslims more than anyone else on earth. After any terrorist activity, inside their houses, Muslims try to put fingers into their ears, not hear the phrase "another act of Muslim terror". Outside, in non-Muslim countries, they avoid eye contacts with others to avoid giving possible explanations that "it need not be an act of Muslim terror" or "I wasn't a part of it." For a terror-attack anywhere, Muslims everywhere have to hang their heads in shame.
Muslims are the first suspects in almost all cases of violence, the world over. The Media usually has "credible sources" and bigot analysts to hatch theories against Muslims and the police has "informers" and matrix of terror links with names of Muslim youths inscribed as terrorists-in-line. Thus, investigation, forensic analysis, and fact finding, all have become irrelevant. The new logic of both the media and the police is to blame Muslims first, and investigate later.
Moments after the horrific Norway bomb-blast that killing 7 people on July 22, followed by the massacre of 85 teenagers, speculations started regarding the possible culprits. The renowned media group, the BBC - considered objective, started speculating on the following night that the Islamist group Al-Qaeda could be behind the attacks, although in the next morning they had to change their tone in front of evidence. As The Sun labeled the attacks as "Norway's 9/11", The Guardian was not behind in their suspicion and analysis of Jihadists' role in the bloody episode.
American media's reaction wasn't different either. The Fox News O'Reilly Factor, not only suspected the Norway killing-spree as another incidence of Islamic terror, the guest host Laura Ingraham even attempted to link it with the atrocious 9/11 happened in the US, a decade ago by reminding the audience about the ground-zero mosque to be built in Manhattan. No doubt she would succeed in her effort to multiply the right-wing American hatred against the Muslims and the Islam.
Blaming the jihadists, the Wall Street Journal reported that "Norway is targeted for being true to Western norms." Meanwhile, on the Washington Post's website, Jennifer Rubin wrote, "This is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists." Altogether the instant reaction to the incidence, without any pursuance of proof or evidence, was that Muslim terror must be responsible for the attack.
However, within a day the whole story had to be changed, as the right-wing-Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik , with a background of hating Muslims and liberals, claimed responsibility for the attacks, exposing the media-bigotry to malign the Muslim image. Once again, it's been proven that not all terrorists are Muslims.
The same thing happens everywhere. Minutes after the Mumbai blasts on July 13, the Indian TV channels propagated the theory that Indian Mujahedeen (IM), deemed to be an Indian Muslim extremist group, could be behind the blast, although security agencies and the Police took hours before adopting the hypothesis solely on the basis of spurious previous trends. Based on their guesswork, the Mumbai Police, as usual, detained several Muslims for questioning. One of those detained--Faiz Usmani--died while in police custody on July 17, sparking allegations of police brutality.
It has been more than a week, yet the investigating agencies have found no evidence to support their claims against the IM nor those detained. The tameness of the media and police administration reflects that - Muslims have been harassed, some Muslims have been detained, and one of them has got killed (all without any evidence). So what? Does it really matter? The Muslims are presumed guilty, by the unwritten rule, until proven innocent.
This trend is naught new. In the past, although there have been occasions in which Muslim groups have been found linked with terrorist activities, but extremist Hindutva-terrorists have also been proven to have carried out half a dozen attacks in India, such as bomb-blasts in Samajhauta Express, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif in (2007), and Malegaon (2008), the list goes on. When the right-wing-Hindutva groups are known to have established links with the Indian military and intelligence to carry out terrorist activities, yet raising fingers against them is an anathema.
The level of hypocrisy in attitude of the police and the media is conspicuous. If a Muslim does, it is a terror plot but if a non-Muslim does, it is just an 'act of violence'. If a Muslim is suspected in a terror act, he is an Islamic terrorist while a proven non-Muslim figure behind terror activities is merely 'an accused'.
If someone bears a Muslim name, this is enough for the police to suspect him/her as a terrorist. A few weeks ago, when a Mid Day's photo journalist - Sayed Sameer Abedi - was taking innocuous photographs of a traffic junction and an airplane, Mumbai police detained him. Simply because of his Muslim name, one "unfortunate' police officer glibly remarked that Mr. Abedi could be a terrorist. Shakespeare was wrong - there is a lot in a name, especially if it is a Muslim sounding name!
If this is how people's sentiments against Muslims are aroused, how can the 1.5 billion Muslims live in peace with others and what message we are giving to the younger and the future generations? As the facts are now revealing the truth and dispelling the conjectures, media's bias is getting clearer. In order to be credible, leave fairness, the media should show a little restraint before making allegations against Muslims and maligning Islam.
(A slightly different version of the Article has been published in Daily Times, Pakistan under the following link: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\07\28\story_28-7-2011_pg3_3 )