Terrorism Myth: Muslims Look for Responsible Journalism
By Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
The “War on Terrorism” is flourishing business for the corporate world - a 21st century fantasy on its own, where facts live in denials and predetermined dogmas cover all aspects of Muslims and Islam. When facts are not available, the mainstream media would construct dark illusions to assert the corporate-political agenda to encroach human rights, freedom and dignity. The media games are not played by any definable rules. After the 9/11 attacks in the US, the sole victims are Muslims and Islamic civilization and nobody else. The recent arrests of the17 youngsters in Toronto, including five underage boys are a clear case in point. Immediately after their arrests, the synchronized statement issued by the new Canadian PM could be conveniently compared to the words of President Bush in thought and spirit. The media quickly eluded to the crimes unknown and unsubstantiated and identified them “ Muslim Terrorists.” As if Muslims were born in the eye of storm and the religion of Islam was the basis of this ephemeral judgment. If the individuals or ethnic groups other than Muslims were involved, the mass media would not have jumped to such hasty and irrelevant ethnically biased conclusions. The reasoning could be that Muslim communities lack political presence or affiliation with an influential political party. Facts are the foundation of truth, and truth and justice are inseparable. Facts are pertinent to reach fair conclusion. End cannot be assumed to play with the facts and be based on dogmas to explain the facts of human life. In a systematic modern society, are there any ethical values and professional standards to be followed by the journalists in North America and Europe? Is there any accountability mechanism for those whose overwhelming motives poison the public perceptions and carve-up malicious propaganda against Muslims and Islam?
Stewart Nusbaumer (“Terror to Empire”: 07/2003), asked the same question, “ can American stop this madness?” And added: “The Bush Administration hawks are lumping together all kinds of reasons and excuses under the rubric of terrorism and exploiting the horror of 9/11 for political and corporate gain - the war against terrorism has become, in fact, a war for empire.” Belatedly, Canada is enlisted when American led adventures are under global scrutiny and appears to be falling apart with public calls for “war crimes” and “impeachment”. In all probabilities, the arrest of 17 individuals involve important legal issues and the opportunities to prove innocence or guilt but in a court of law. How come the mass media has assumed the role of law and justice? Is that is what the Canadian justice is about? Not so, I believe. But what about those 17 people and their families whose life has been destroyed by the false media created perceptions and biased imagery? The media appears to be spearheading the animosity psyche more for public consumption than the role of a fair agent of information and public awareness.
Gwynne Dyer (“The International Terrorist Conspiracy”, 06/2006), London-based prominent journalist, points out: “there is no shadowy but powerful network waging a terrorist war against the West: the whole thing is a fantasy.” Europeans are well aware, of Baader-Meinhof Gang (German), Red Brigades (Italy), and Red Army (Japan), but no one calls them Christian or Buddhist terrorists. Why? Simply, because there are Christian or Buddhist, not Muslim. The “War on Terrorism” is a war against Muslims and to control their natural resources under the American Empire, and nothing else. Ethnically conscientious and politically infuriated, the Dutch lady Minister of Immigration (CBC TV Night News documentary: 8-9 June), has a quick solution for the “hijab” - “abaya” - black cover dressed ladies, do as the Romans do or 100,000-150,000 Muslims get out of here.” Was that an incentive to the North American politicians to think and act likewise?
Some media outlets have readily available phony Islamic experts or officially subsidized gatekeepers of approved truth to allege that Islam teaches radicalism and the issue of “youth extremism.” Nobody knows where such an intellectual nuisance comes from? Islam is a religion of peace and it shares all its values and belief, as do the other branches of the Abrahamic monotheistic faiths such as the Christianity and Judaism. Islamic religious teaching-learning do not include nor envision hatred against other fellow human beings. Indeed, Islam professes deep respect and dignity for the People of the Book. Muslims are an integral part of the Canadian multicultural mosaic. If the societal relationship is weak, it does not mean it is harmful. It should not be misinterpreted in a naïve context to generate alarming images when an individual commits crime; it is not the ethnicity of the individual involved, group or the religion to be blamed.
The timing of the major accusations against the 17 people arrested could be put in a proper context. In one statement, the accused was going to ”behead the PM.” Another, someone was going to “attack the Parliament” and so on. These are highly charged allegations with serious long and short terms consequences. Often, media strategists manufacture such accusations to maximize the propaganda stunt and create public fear and confusion. Mr. Batasar or other defense lawyers can only offer its true explanation. In reality, such claims are outcome of big political thinking and seem more relevant to the on-going war horrors in Iraq, than the minds of the accused youngsters. Many civilian massacres are daily being reported in Iraq and the blames rests on the American and British military forces. Was the arrest of the 17 youngsters an attempt to distract the public attention from the real-world issues?
Since 9/11, there has been no major terrorist attack in the West. What happened in London in July 2005, is reportedly a homegrown individual extremism, not linked to any global network. Gwynne Dyer offers commonsense insight: “Most people in the West believe the official narrative rather than the evidence of their own eyes. There must be a major terrorist threat; otherwise, the government is wrong or lying, the intelligence are wrong or self-serving, the media are fools or cowards, and the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.”
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), vehemently claimed by the US Administration, were one of the major reasons for warmongering in Iraq. It backfired at the political deception and stupidity forged by the American and British decision makers. Hal Crowther called it “Weapons of Mass Stupidity”, (06/2003), and elaborated: when Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken were alive, they never imagined Fox News and Bill O’Reilly to serve as “crash dummies.” He goes on to illustrate, how O’Reilly cursed a boy whose father had died in the 9/11 but he refused to support the Iraq war. He cites Fox TV anchorman Neil Cavuto, who celebrated the fall of Baghdad by informing all of us who opposed the war in March; “you were sickening then, you are sickening now.” Crowther pinpoints the rationale: “these troubled men are neither bad journalists nor even bad actors portraying journalists- they ‘re mentally unbalanced individuals whose partisan belligerence is pressing them to the brink of psychosis.”
At this juncture, cautious and responsible journalism is missing to support the dictates of law, justice and social harmony. There is no excuse for the mass media to make the end assumptions and sponsor the guilty portrayal of Muslims and Islam when no such evidence exists. If the motives and activities of the suspected 17 terrorists were of criminal nature, let the judge decide about it, not the news media. There is an urgent need for the authorities, the mass media and Muslims to be courageous and active participants to bridge the gaps, cross-over the varied cultural time zones and enter people’s real life to enhance understanding and social harmony. The terrorism myth is a political gimmick and a fraudulent policy objective to exploit feelings and mislead the softhearted North American and European pubic against Muslims - a people – a community - a civilization, intimately respectable as are the Christian, Jewish and others.
Mahboob A. Khawaja is an academic who specializes in strategic studies with an interest in comparative civilizations. He is the author of Muslims and the West: Quest for Change