Which besmirches the “Religion of Peace” more? A cartoon about the mistreatment of women in Islam, or the mistreatment of women in Islam? For the Daily Star of Lebanon, it is decidedly the former.
Come off it, Ibrahim. Come off it, Dr. Ghazi Falah. This is one dhimmi who isn’t buying. It is Osama bin Laden who is defaming Islam. It is Mukhlas who is defamining Islam. And Omar Bakri. And Abu Hamza. And Abu Bakar Bashir. And Zarqawi. And Shehzad Tanweer. And hordes of others.
The press is, as any regular Jihad Watch reader knows, extraordinarily reluctant to say anything about the Islamic component of jihad violence. We are all accustomed to reading about “gunmen,” “activists,” “extremists” and “insurgents,” and hardly ever about “Muslims” or even “jihadists.” Yet Dr. Falah would have us believe, from the comfort of his study in Akron, that some terrible campaign is going on in the press to vilify Muslims because there is any reporting of (and just a bit of lampooning of) Islamic violence at all.
Well, the press can’t talk about Baptist extremists, or Methodist gunmen. It does have to stick around within the general neighborhood of what is really happening. Stereotyping? Vilification? Hardly. If Muslim women weren’t oppressed, if Muslim preachers weren’t yapping constantly about Zionist pigs, you would never hear a peep of any of this.
Note also who is behind this: it comes from the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saud Center for American Studies and Research. That’s the guy who is making FoxNews, Harvard and Georgetown dance happily to his tune.
“Effect of U.S. media on perceptions: Press plays key role in stereotyping arabs, Muslims,” from Spencer Osberg in The Daily Star, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
BEIRUT: “The Muslim world is a strange and formidable place to an average American, in some ways a perennial zone of magic, mystery and disorder,” said Dr. Ghazi Falah, of the University of Akron, Ohio, on Monday at the American University of Beirut. It is regarded in “a framework of violence, disorder and unreason contrasted with the rationalism of the West.”
Falah was one of three presenters for “Media and Film Representations of Arabs and the Middle East,” one session held as part of a three-day “America in the Middle East-The Middle East in America” conference. The conference is an initiative of the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saud Center for American Studies and Research.
“I focus on the way in which an American newspaper makes or decides on a certain ‘editorial arrangement’ in presenting material concerning Muslim or Arab topics, to serve specific political or geo-political ends or respective governments,” said Falah, noting the construction of Arabs as ‘the other’ – different and inferior to Westerners – is central to American foreign policy….
Informative examples of a newspaper’s “definition of a situation” are the editorial cartoon, says Falah, which “are useful sources of data because they are aimed at a mass audience, are full of caricatures and often have action themes with underlying story or meaning.”
He pointed to two cartoons which appeared in the Los Angeles Times. On January 1, 2003, the paper printed what Falah describes as a “classic assault on the Arab world and its people,” where the Arab world is represented as a yappy dog barking about “America” and “Zionist Pigs,” while the dog jumps in the lap of a robed person with the words “Islamic Extremist” on his chest.
“What’s the message?” asks Falah. “While the noisy Arab world accuses America of being in the lap of Zionist pigs, they are themselves in the lap of Islamic extremists and in their control.”
On November 27, 2002, the Los Angeles Times printed another cartoon depicting three fully veiled women walking across a stage under the banner “Al-Islam sponsors the Miss Muslim World contest.” The sashes the women wore read “Miss waiting to be stoned,” “Miss can’t vote” and “Miss illiteracy,” while two Afghani-looking men watched, one of which had a rifle.
“Perhaps some would argue this cartoon contains a kernel of truth, and targets only radical Islam and not all Muslims, but how could such an insulting and crude cartoon be considered newsworthy enough to be published in the Los Angeles Times?”
He notes the cartoon was placed on the same page with an editorial about the Bush administration’s preparations for war in Iraq, creating a juxtaposition of “the bad Islam” with the “good Bush administration” coming to the rescue.
“Newspapers enjoy extraordinary freedom to frame, and bend and distort the ways in which information is reported, interpreted and packaged,” says Falah, leading to much misrepresentation of the Arabs and Muslims.