Fallacy of the term, ‘the Muslim world’

A classic example of “worlding” in it’s imperialistic application is discussed in an essay entitled “The fallacy of the phrase. ‘the Muslim world” by Sarah Kendzior, appearing in Al Jazeera.   As Kendzior writes,  “The day after the attacks on the US diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, the New York Times set out to explain what it called the “anguished relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.’  According to the Times, the ‘Muslim world’ was prone to outbursts of violence, and the reaction to the 14-minute anti-Islam movie trailer The Innocence of Muslims was both baffling and predictable. ‘Once again, Muslims were furious,’ wrote reporter Robert F Worth, ‘and many in the West found themselves asking why Islam seems to routinely answer such desecrations with violence.’ Other media outlets echoed the claim that ‘the Muslim world’ was consumed by anger, and had long been so. The Associated Press offered a look back at ‘Five other incidents that inspired rage in the Muslim world’, crediting over a billion people for the actions of a few thousand in their search for historical continuity. Others took a psychoanalytic approach. ‘Why is the Muslim world so easily offended?’ asked Washington Post columnist Fouad Ajami. ’Madness in the Muslim World: Help Me Understand,’ pleaded a blogger for the Houston Chronicle. It is time to retire the phrase ‘the Muslim world’ from the Western media. Using the phrase in the manner above disregards not only history and politics, but accurate reporting of contemporary events. The protests that took place around the world ranged in scale and intensity, in the participants’ willingness to use violence, and in their rationales. The majority of the ‘Muslim world’ did not participate in these protests, nor did all of the Muslims who protested the video advocate the bloodshed that took place in Libya. By reducing a complex set of causes and conflicts to the rage of an amorphous mass, the Western media reinforce the very stereotype of a united, violent ‘Muslim world’ that both the makers of the anti-Islam video and the Islamist instigators of the violence perpetuate.”

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