Category Archives: philipiines

Demonization of Muslims in the Media Leads to Discrimination of Muslim Minorities

During the Middle Ages, the burghers, many of them Jews, started to gain economic power. Pretty soon, the Jew moneymen began having a monetary network all over the European continent. Kings and dukes owed them huge amounts of money. The biggest of them, like the Rothschilds gained titles to nobility. But the European Christians were not amused.

Western literature is full of anti-Semitic propaganda. Shakespeare’s Shylock is perhaps the most famous Jewish character in Western literature. Throughout the Middle Ages and well into the Industrial Age, anti-Jewish policies were enacted all over Europe.

The result of this anti-Semitic media products resulted into one of history’s biggest massacres – the German extermination of some 6 million Jews during World War II.

In the case of the Muslims, the situation is similar. Since the Middle Ages, the Church fathers had a continuous propaganda against the Muslims – the so-called heathens and infidels. This of course resulted in the Crusades, which united most of the Kingdoms of Europe.

The Christian Crusades were a failure. But the exploits of some Christians like those of Richard the Lionheart became the stuff of Christian legends. Attacks on Islam were a normal feature in Christian literature, both academic and popular.

In the Age of European Colonization, which coincided with the fall of Muslim power, Western literature on Muslims and Islam became condescending and even romanticized as something noble, feminine and eminently conquerable.

After World War II, the world witnessed the creation of several Muslim states. Although still controlled by the Western powers, the Muslim Voice suddenly made its appearance in the world media. Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan led the articulation of Muslim aspirations.

In the 1970s, the OPEC, especially its Muslim members, flexed its muscles and declared an oil embargo. The Arab countries, as well as the Western oil companies, suddenly found themselves extremely rich – with a lot of economic power.

The Western media promptly blamed the Arabs and Muslims as the culprits in the world oil crisis. The Western-owned oil companies were exonerated. This time, caricatures of Arabs as uncivilized desert nomads (Bedouins) turned to Arabs as uncivilized but very rich oilmen buying everything Western.

With the Cold War going on, the Muslims, who were the natural enemies of Communism, were the dearest friends of the West.

When USSR invaded Afghanistan, America and the CIA funded Muslim fundamentalists from all over the Muslim world to join the Taliban in their fight against USSR. A young Saudi citizen, scion of the rich merchant family, the Bin Ladens, was made the fund-raiser in the Arab world. His name was Osama bin Laden. A Moro named Abdurajak Janjalani was one of those recruited by the CIA to fight in Afghanistan.

But with the fall of USSR and most of the Communist world, the Muslims found themselves in their traditional role – as enemies of the West. Osama Bin Laden became Enemy Number One of the US and her allies. Janjalani became Enemy Number One of the Philippine government. The US and her allies declared war against the Talibans, whom they funded, trained and helped put in power in the first place.

With Bush’s and Blair’s War on Terrorism, the Muslims found themselves having a new Identity. They are no longer heathens or infidels or exotic Orientals. They are simply Terrorists.

Muslim Minorities are Worst Victims

Anti-Muslim propaganda is inimical to all Muslims, but especially to Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim countries. These Muslims are already marginalized and continuing anti-Muslim propaganda simply foster discrimination by the majority.

Philippine case

In the Philippines, anti-Muslim propaganda has been institutionalized by the Spaniards since the 17th century. Spanish literature, documents, Church sermons and official policies are full of anti-Muslim (against all Muslims not just Moros) material. The indios or naturales (non-Muslim natives) were fed not only anti-Muslim sermons but also anti-Muslim entertainment. Zarzuelas or moro-moro were popular musical stage plays whose protagonists were Christians and Muslims (of any country). The Muslims were always the villains in these plays.

When the Americans came, the slogan became: “A good Moro is a dead Moro”.

Even after the independence in 1946, anti-Muslim stories can be found in newspapers, films, comics and even school textbooks.

When I was in Grade VI, I was scanning my younger sister’s Grade III textbook. I was so shocked to read the Moros described as “bandits, pirates and outlaws.” I remember showing the book to my brother who was in college. He simply laughed and said, “So what’s new?”

Through the years, I’ve seen the Moros / Muslims mocked, insulted in films, on TV, in comic books, on radio and in newspaper stories, columns and even editorials.

Through the years, I have been forced to defend the Moros / Muslims in school, office, seminars and various fora. 

I have later realized that when a Moro starts defending Moro or Islamic culture and identity, he will find the Christian Filipinos — be they classmates, officemates, bosses, friends or acquaintances — regarding him/her with a wary eye. And if that Moro shows his/her superiority in any way (intelligence, skills, etc.), sooner or later, that Moro would be left alone by the Christians because he/she could not be their TOKEN friend, underling or protege.

Today, many Moros have learned that in order to succeed in the Philippines, they will have to play the role of meek, mild-mannered, yes men and women to their Christian fellow citizens. Many Christian Filipino leaders have their Moro sidekicks. Non-government organizations operating in Mindanao are so happy to be surrounded by such Moros. Now, because of the presence of so many Moro a__-lickers, the Media have started to patronize the Moros in general. 

If the Philippine media do not demonize the Moros as fanatic killers, they patronize them as poor, uneducated  souls oppressed by their own leaders and in terrible need of the helping hand of peace-loving Christian Filipinos.