Monday, August 14, 2006

The Big Newspapers Need To Cover More Muslim Reformers

The New York Times on Sunday reported that in a recent poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project of Muslims in 13 countries, 81% of those living in Britain said they considered themselves Muslim first and British second. The corresponding figures were 69% in Spain and 66% in Germany.

When we see figures like these, we began to realize why Muslims are such dangerous minorities in Western Europe. Is it too much to suggest that Muslims who owe their primary loyalty to Islam move back to their countries of origin?

In Monday's New York Times, there's a report that British investigators are examining the records of an Islamic "charity" to determine if money that was given ostensibly for the purpose of Pakistani earthquake relief ended up instead in the hands of terrorists planning to blow up 10 American and British airliners flying over the Atlantic.

This would not be the first time that money given to "Islamic charities" was turned instead to financing terrorist activities.

The L.A. and N.Y. Times in recent days have featured quotes from various Arab-American organizations criticizing President Bush for saying last week that the U.S. is at war with "Islamic fascists." One Arab-American leader was quoted as saying this was impossible, because fascism was not compatible with Islam.
It is by such sophistries that many Muslim leaders ignore the fact that most terrorist actions committed in the world are by Muslims and have been for some time.

However, it's reported today that the director-general of the Arab television network, al-Arabiya, chastised those who had criticized the President for the Muslim fascist remark. "The protesting group which held a press conference would have done better to hold a news conference to discuss the deeds of those affiliated to Islam who harmed all Muslims by their acts," he said. He added,"Bush did not say that the Muslims were fascists. He said that Muslim fascists were the problem."

It is quite common, meanwhile, that when a Muslim commits a horrific crime, such as the murder of a woman at a Jewish Federation center in Seattle recently, that family members and friends insist they never saw any sign of extremism in the perpetrator. The family members of those arrested last week in the British terror plot said their loved ones could not possibly have been guilty.

Since a tenet of Islam is that adherents are free to lie to infidels, these assurances must be treated with great skepticism.

The papers have been full again in recent days with discussions of Muslim extremism in Britain, where many of the suspects in terrorist acts are either native-born or, in some case, like would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, converts.

L.A. Times stories about the local Muslim community very often feature whining by members about all the alleged prejudices against them, with very little or no self-criticism of religious beliefs that often include the enslavement of women, brutal punishment for crimes and dictatorial government.

Yet there are many Muslims who do not share these beliefs, and do support reforms. The MEMRI organization that reports on Middle Eastern statements, writings, etc. frequently includes reports of such reformers, struggling to begin the process of modernization in the Muslim communities.

L.A. Times coverage of the Muslim community in particular lays improper emphasis on the most conventional and unreconstructed Muslims and only relatively infrequently dwells on those members of the faith who have the temerity to challenge 14th century-style beliefs.

The paper would be doing a public service if it focused more on the enlightened Muslims rather than those who blindly defend the worst tendencies in that religion or ignore its shortcomings. But maybe it is too much to expect that the news media would be more constructive.

Islam is in crisis, and there are Muslims willing to try to do something about it, but not often enough do we read about that in the American press.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1995, the Times-Mirror Board had a study of the profit margins of the largest public-stock newspaper companies. The breakdown of average annual margins ran something like this:

NYT Co. typically 12-14%
Times-Mirror 14-16%
Washington Post 15-17%
Knight-Ridder 16-18%
Gannett 18-20%

You will notice that Tribune was not among those companies that were examined. I took this to mean that because it was primarily a broadcast based company, its margins weren't relevant to what the board was looking at. Funny how Tribune, which did earn above 20% on average, told analysts, shareholders and employees that it could and would maintain its historic margins after acquiring a company that never made anything like that kind of profit.

8/21/2006 11:28 AM  

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