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Media playing important role in portraying Muslims as terrorists: US varsity research

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New York: Media plays an important role in its coverage of portraying Muslims as terrorists, says a study.

Exposure to news stories which are anti-Muslim in nature was driving people’s attitudes and perception that Muslims are inherently violent, the study said.

A series of studies conducted by the researchers from the Iowa State University in the US have predicted more support for the presidential candidates taking a strong anti-Muslim stand.

Political conservatives and people who most strongly identify with their “fellow Americans” were more supportive of war against Muslim countries and civil restrictions of Muslim Americans, the study revealed.

The level of support that participants expressed for restricting the freedom of Muslim Americans was very high, the findings showed.

“The influence of negative media stories as well as a separate link we found between political conservatism and anti-Muslim sentiments and beliefs, both suggest that US political candidates who were willing to take very strong anti-Muslim stands would get a lot of support from the most active and vocal conservatives,” said Craig Anderson, professor at Iowa State University.

Two studies measured exposure to news stories portraying Muslims as terrorists. In an additional study, participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three news clips, which portrayed Muslims in a negative, neutral or positive light.

Participants also were questioned about their perceptions and support for military or political action.

However, the researchers were encouraged by how participants responded to the positive story about Muslim Americans.

The researchers asserted that the positive story reduced participants’ view of Muslims as aggressive. And they were less likely to support military action and civil restrictions for Muslims.

Journalists can make a difference by actively seeking out positive stories about Muslim Americans, the researchers pointed out in the study published in the journal Communication Research.

And when covering on Islam-related terrorist attacks, the reporters should talk with Muslim Americans about their opposition to such actions, they added.

Also, Muslim Americans can help erase negative stereotypes by speaking out and being more visible in their communities, the researchers concluded.

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