Posted: March 24th, 2023

Arab Media Stereotypes


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The media has stereotyped Arabs and Muslims in different racial undertones. Throughout the history of media, Hollywood, western media, and other films have portrayed the Arabs as terrorists, barbaric, and oil sheikh. Thus, the media portrays Arabs negatively by adopting stereotypical roles. Arabs emerge barbaric, uncivilized, and extensively dangerous to global peace and civilization. After the September 11 terror attack, the western media changed its coverage of Arabs and Muslims worldwide; hence, western newspapers, television coverage, film, and social media interactions set the agenda that focuses on the oriental perspective.

Description of Evidence of Four Media Evaluated

Across various mass media platforms, representation of Arabs, Muslims, and Islam often distort the cultural experiences of these communities. The film, broadcast media, newspapers, and news media are four platforms that stereotype Arabs. Thus, television series, movies, newscasts, documentaries, political talk shows, and social media posts show a significant percentage of negative images of Arabs and Muslim women. The social media platforms support the conversations about the social elements of Arabs. People engage in discussions that reinforce the orientalist view that Arabs and Muslims are barbaric and threaten global peace through new media. There are abundant negative and repetitive stereotypes of Arabs in western media that are misleading. The impact of these stereotypes lies in their influence on the audience. As a result, the media succeeds in shaping the narrative where the majority of the people associate Arabs with Muslims because films and other media platforms often identify Arabs as Muslims.

Mainstream media such as television and newspaper engages in setting the agenda on propaganda on issues of Arabs and Muslims. Barber portends that the media stereotype depicts an uncertain future in the Arab world Islam as “a direct threat to the west” (200). Therefore, the western media portrays Arabs and Muslim women by emphasizing their radicalization. The stereotype distorts the Muslim identity and link Arabs to Islam as a religion. Television, new media, newspapers, and Hollywood films comprise mass media that have promoted propaganda stereotypes against Arabs since the September 11 attack. Overall, it emerges that while mass media has informed, entertained, and persuaded the masses on incidences happening in the Arab world, it stereotypes the Middle East regions by instilling fear in public on the role that Arabs play in the increasing global terrorism.

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Analysis of Significant Patterns of Media Stereotypes 

The western and European media stereotype Arabs based on West versus East. In essence, the media does not offer balanced coverage about the Arabs. Jörg and Zick indicate that “the European media should have a balanced coverage of issues affecting Muslim women” (52). The documentation of social and political climates leadings to media stereotyping and subsequent discrimination of Arabs. Due to the unbalanced coverage, the media leads Muslim women to deal with the effects of the negative image in the global media. The media stereotypes stress the cultural representation that women occupy. Besides, the media depicts that in the Arab world, women and minorities occupy far less space than their male counterparts. As a result, the media engages in myths about Arabs as people who marginalize their women. Thus, media platforms depict how Arab societies underrepresent women, leading to racial and sexist status.

Mass media discriminate against the Arabs along racial lines. The prevailing negative image in the media generates a sense of otherness, pitying the Arabs and the rest of the world. According to Adams, the stereotypes and representation in entertainment media negatively create a sense of otherness (1). The harmful nature of stereotypes allows people to perceive the Arabs with judgment. Although Hollywood films paint Arabs as dangerous people, the media’s stereotype touches on racial and religious segregation. The most emerging stereotype from these media is that Aras is barbaric, uncivilized, and dangerous.

New Media paint the Arabs as a pestilential threat. Social media conversations build on Hollywood filmmakers’ agenda to project the wider Arab communities as villains (Hafsa 2). The representation has helped engrave a malignant stereotype that alienates the Arabs within racial discrimination. The television news coverage and newspaper commentaries depict Arabs as religious fanatics whose purpose is to engage in terrorism. The media stereotype creates a dislike of the Arabs in the globalized space. Media stereotypes have created significant obstacles to the status of Arab in society. The majority of media platforms associate the Arabs as people who have the highest percentage of illiteracy.

Interpretation of Media Portrayal

Different media in society set an agenda on a given social concern. The media influences people to adopt behaviors, build stereotypical images, and assume attitudes that affect their perceptions and actions in real life. Nittle argues that television shows and Hollywood films frequently depict Arabs as misogynistic villains with strange cultures (para 1). Also, the mass media has portrayed Arabs as Muslims, thereby overlooking the Arabs who belong to other religions and live in different parts of the world. The impact that media stereotypes have on Arabs lies in triggering hate crimes, racial discrimination, and racial profiling.

Media stereotypes have adversely affected the images of the Arab people and Muslim women in society. Mass media portray Arabs as terrorists. Most television programs and Hollywood films refer to Arabs as villains and terrorists. For example, True Lies, a blockbuster movie, features Crimson Jihad, a fictional terrorist group with membership comprising Arabs. Thus, the stereotype that emerges from the media is that Arabs are irrational and harbor intense hatred for Americans (Nittle para 7). Although mass media has educated and informed people on the events, incidences, and causalities in the world, the portrayal of events in the Middle East is not as objective as that of the western world. Therefore, films, mainstream media, and new media spread propaganda about the Arabs and instill fear in the people by connecting the Arabs to terrorism. While the media stereotype of the Arabs is based on false leads, the prevalence of negative media stereotypes captures Western media’s propaganda objective of stigmatizing Muslim women.

Evaluation of Arab Media Stereotypes

Media stereotypes of the Arabs draw from the orientalism perspective. The historical character of orientalism captures the deep-rooted complexities that attribute Arabs to barbaric people. Thus, the media portrayal juxtaposes overlapping perceptions based on the orientalists’ constructs (Hafsa 2). As a result, the dichotomy of media stereotypes shapes the narrative of the West versus the East. Thus, the media stereotype of the Arabs is a product of global historical events and reinforces the interests of maintaining western hegemony. Therefore, western media emphasize depicting Arabs within the idea of cultural otherness.

The West and Europe portrays Arabs by emphasizing an exaggerated narrative. The western media builds on orientalism to create the image of Arab culture as uncivilized and backward (Adams 5). For this reason, the media stereotypes operate on the assumption of Western superiority over Arab culture. The foundation of orientalism enhances the mass media’s ability to create narratives that depict the distinctions between the West and the East. The starting point for the media stereotypes is to elaborate on the social-cultural difference between the Arabs and the West and disseminate these narratives through novels, films, social descriptions, and political accounts. As a result, the media stereotype depicts Arabs as violent, irrational, and fanatic. In some films, media stereotypes create a superiority complex between the Arabs and other western cultures. Producers and film directors link Arab women to people who tolerate oppression and sexism. The common stereotype towards Arab women reflects the uncivilized women suffering oppression.

Engagement 5×5 Bingo Sheet

West vs. East Racial Discrimination Pestilential Threat Barbaric Backward
Inferior culture Inferior to the West Terrorists Threat to the western world Uncivilized
Uncivilized Villains Women sympathize with terror attackers Concern with Islam Engage in women’s oppression.
Oriental tendencies Illiterates Hate Americans Oil Sheikh Religious fanaticism
Gender discrimination Oppresses women Finances terrorist activities Oppressed women Dangerous




The media leads in setting the stage for the discriminating agenda of Arabs. Most western media portray Arabs as terrorists and barbaric. The contentious manner in which the media depicts the Arab world is dehumanizing and creates false perceptions. The media conversations about Arabs, Muslim women, and Islam, in general, align to the orientalist perspective that exaggerates and distorts the Arabs way of life and culture. It views the Arabs as dangerous, uncivilized, and backward. Therefore, the western media sets the agenda about the Arabs and reinforces the view that the Arab cultural orientation is a threat to the global coexistence.


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