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Terror and fear shape the image of Islam

Islamic State’s media strategy exacerbates the tensions - Churches and religious protagonists in international TV news, December 2013-December 2015

Rapperswil, December 22, 2015. In 2015 the media perception of religion was dominated by violence and terror even more than in previous years. For one report about the Christian churches prime-time news programs all over the world broadcast twice as many reports about Islam and Muslim terrorists and organizations. This shows a new analysis of the Swiss research institute Media Tenor International.

“Voices that refuse to equate Islam and violence are taken up more and more rarely in the media,” explains Dr. Christian Kolmer, director of policy analysis at Media Tenor. “While overall criticism of Islam and Muslims decreased slightly in January 2015 after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, there was no similar reaction after the Parisian terrorist attacks of November.” In more than two thirds of all reports about Muslim actors and organizations terrorism and violence are the main aspects. “The media strategy of Islamic State with its shocking acts of violence has so far been successful, leading to increasing anti-Muslim sentiment all over the world – which in turn drives support for IS among alienated and intimidated Muslims.”

The media image of the Christian churches continued to be dominated by reports about the Catholic Church. While new scandals and the lengthy discussions on the family Synod led to an overall negative image of the organization, media enthusiasm for Pope Francis remained unbroken despite this disillusionment. With his visits to South America, the U.S., the Philippines and Africa, Pope Francis left behind the intrigues of the Curia and basked in the visible support of the faithful.

The image of Protestantism suffers not only from the lack of a comparable figurehead but as well from the fragmentation between countries and among its many denominations. While the Anglican Church has recovered somewhat from the acerbic debates about the ordination of homosexual priests to the episcopate, overall visibility remained limited. Two years before the 500thanniversary of the Reformation, Protestantism seems already to be perceived by the media more as an historic relic than as a living creed.

For this study Media Tenor has analyzed all 682,240 reports on protagonists including 17,562 reports on religious organizations and their representatives in 12 international main evening TV news programs from December 1, 2013 to December 20, 2015. The average inter-coder reliability was at 86%in Q3 2015.

Contact: Dr. Christian Kolmer - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 0049 176 19134512

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