Shot US Muslims: media under fire
If you read some of the comments below the Al Jazeera report of the massacre of three young North Carolina Muslims – Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha Razan Abu Salha, pictured above – the impression you’d get is that mainstream Western media is virtually ignoring the tragedy.
Example: Ronny Culpepper wrote:
If these were ANYONE besides Muslim victims, this would be world news. I, as an Anglo American Christian, am outraged that this is not treated the same by the American news media as it would be if it were Christian or Jewish.
And this, from Carl Prothos-Acton:
The shooter was a left wing anti religion nut case. that’s why the news ignored it. He used a standard .38 pistol and not some military grade weapon. So it doesn’t fit their agenda.
And in an Al Jareera op-ed Dr Mohamad Elmasry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama, wrote:
Western media outlets will likely frame the most recent perpetrator of what some speculate is an anti-Muslim crime in the same way they frame most anti-Muslim criminals – as crazed, misguided bigots who acted alone. If past coverage is any indication, there will likely be very little suggestion that the killer acted on the basis of an ideology or as part of any larger pattern or system.
He added that studies of Western media coverage of Islam indicate:
That Muslims are often portrayed in Western news media as violent, backwards, fundamentalist and as threats to Western civilisation. Western news coverage rarely highlights Islam except to show its possible relation to some atrocity, and Muslims are rarely mentioned in the context of news that is positive or benign.
The fact is that the story has – and continues to be – widely reported. Google “North Carolina Muslim shooting” and you will find 16 pages of headlines from around the world about the incident.
According to the Independent, the perpetrator – 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks – described himself as an “anti-theist” and criticised all religions online.
Police said Hicks handed himself in to officers in Chapel Hill overnight in the wake of the deaths of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
He has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. As tributes poured in for the young family, a Facebook page in Hicks’ name showed that he read paralegal studies at Durham Technical Community College and described himself as a supporter of “Atheists for Equality” and he said he is a fan of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.
The Cairo Post adds that Hicks’s Facebook cover photo reads:
I don’t deny you your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out it’s ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people. ANTI-THEISM: The conscientious objection to religion.
The shooting of the three Muslims has been widely condemned across social media, including by Richard Dawkins, who tweeted:
How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?
Dar al-Iftaa, Egypt’s government-sponsored religious institution responsible for issuing fatwas and religious opinions, said in a statement:
This horrifying act of murder reveals the preposterous face of extremism and proves once more that the outrageous acts of terrorism do not have any religious base or faith association. This disheartening act could only come from those whose hearts are filled with hatred. This recent wave of gruesome acts of killing based on racial profiling and religious discrimination marks a dark chapter in human history …
The international media bears a great ethical responsibility in fighting extremism. The false association which some international media tends to make between Islam and brutal acts of terrorism gives room for ill-hearted, individuals with sick mentalities who have warped logic to outpour their rage and anger on innocent Muslims. The fuel of hatred and the storage of animosity should not be incited with erroneous associations between faith and terrorism as there is no religion could justify savagery and barbarity.