A few bad apples can ruin the reputation of the larger bunch. It’s a reality that must be recognized in order to be addressed. But it all starts with perception.
There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world (for what it’s worth, there are 7 billion human beings). Research conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that the rise of Islamic extremism is a concern in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike. Interestingly enough, of the Muslim countries surveyed, Turkey was least concerned that this would be an issue. Anyone who knows a little about Turkish history and the trend in the interpretation of the religion can guess why. If Turks are known to be extreme in anything, it is in their liberalism (as far as Muslim countries go) – but, that’s a whole different topic.
The way Muslims perceive their own faith is equally important as to how others see it. For one, it puts them in a position to be more compelled to do something if they are concerned about it. Meaning, it adds a level of accountability. On the other hand, this perception could also potentially breed an enmity-filled nonfunctional and aggressive culture for all of society.
It becomes the responsibility of the Muslim world to find ways to voice concern over the actions of their community, and then to take measures to help deter such behavior. They must work toward efforts that will promote positive and exemplary actions so that those in the Muslim world can re-learn, so to speak, the values of their own faith.
To get such messages across to a mass audience, the media tends to be one of the best tools. It is also a great way to relay these same messages to other communities, so to increase awareness of what it is that Islam represents. In doing so, perceptions will eventually fall in line with the actual realities of the majority of the peoples within this faith group.