“The West’s image of Islam has been hijacked by extremists, delegates at the recent News Xchange broadcasting conference in Amsterdam heard.” Thus the beginning of a BBC News report entitled “Extremists hijack Islam’s image”.
In fact the debate was prompted by the results of a Kuwaiti government survey that criticised the depiction of Muslims in the Western media as “typically stereotypical and negative”. Speakers argued that “the role of the media should be to understand and illustrate the complexity of the Islamic world, rather than dealing in such generalisations”.
The argument was that the tiny minority of extremists who claim to represent Islam are falsely portrayed as typical of the religion as a whole. Abdul Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based paper al-Quds al-Arabi, is reported as complaining that, when radical groups “hijacked” Islam, the Western media simplistically depicted this as “Muslim terrorism”.