Saturday, March 10, 2012

CNN reinforcing a negative Muslim stereotype

by Salman Hameed

Just yesterday, I had a post that pointed to a reasonable Muslim response to a billboard promoting atheism in Arabic and English. The response came from the head of the Islamic Center located two blocks from the billboard. The argument was couched in terms of freedom of speech and I thought it was a good response. But a reasonable response - I guess - doesn't make for good headlines. So CNN has a report on the same billboard - but with the headline: Atheist billboard draws Muslim ire. No seriously - where is the "Muslim ire"? Interestingly, the title of the actual title is simply Atheist Billboard Goes Up in NJ Muslim Neighborhood. Even in the "article", unnamed Muslims only offered disagreements with the message, but support for the right of speech on the billboard. Oh - the "ire"!! But CNN used the stereotype of Muslims in the US - an assumption of angry reaction - to lure the readers to the article. Here is the screenshot of the US section of CNN today:

And ladies and gentlemen - this is one of the ways media propagates stereotypes. Not to mention the fact that there is no actual news in this story. But then, news organizations like CNN stopped providing news a while ago.

Read the related post: A Reasonable Muslim Response Over Atheism Billboard.


Gary said...

A few years ago a police officer and a young Muslim were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside my local police station. Within an hour both major city newspapers had the story on their websites. Both had "shifted" the location of the "shoot-out" to my local mosque 1km up the road from the police station.

The mosque management first heard of this when the abusive and threatening phone calls started. A call to both newspapers elicited the response that their information came from a police press release. A call to the police station in question and a follow-up call to the police media unit revealed that the press release stated that he walked past the mosque on his way to the police station. That snippet of information was used by both papers for a free kick at the local Muslim community.

The mosque management faxed a press release to both papers correcting their "errors" and followed up with a call to the editors. The Police media unit issued a similar press release. One newspaper corrected its online story and reported correctly in the eventual print edition. the other was still running its work of fiction a day later.

A few months later a group of Muslims did a tour of that purveyor of fiction. When they asked the editor why the paper published so many negative stories about Muslims he replied that 50% of the paper contained paid advertising. To sell that he had to sell papers and bad news stories about Muslims sold newspapers.

There you have it: Community harmony and the safety and security of a peaceful, and mostly law-abiding minority group are a legitimate sacrifice to earn a buck for a media mogul.

Salman Hameed said...

Gary - sorry to hear that. In the US, different minorities have gone through these kinds of phases (for example, the Irish Catholics) and it seems that right now it is the turn of the Muslims. Tomorrow, it is going to be somebody else.

AnotherAnonymous said...

I just checked and the "ire" is definitely there on the main page of but after clicking it there is nothing in the article suggesting Muslims being ire.

It does seem like they just did it to get more attention to the story, but I don't agree with their way.

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