Wednesday, August 03, 2011

3-Aug-11: Just how dangerous is religious fanaticism when it's cloaked as journalism?

From the CBC website [source]
We have written here in the past about a London-based Arab journalist who has made a career practice of racist and hate-based pronouncements, while continuing to enjoy a surprisingly respectable degree of respect from such mainstream media channels as NPR, Sky News, CNN and the BBC. Each of these has hosted him frequently and, for reasons which can only leave us wondering, presents him as an objective observer on events in our part of the world.

[Take a quick look at what we have written about this very unlovely man in the past. "4-Dec-10: Should this man be accorded the respect due to an objective, professional journalist?" and "11-Dec-10: Should this man have been given a public platform?" among others.]

The man is called Abdel al-Bari Atwan, and he has an essay in The Guardian's widely-read Comment is Free blog this week under the title The chance of Ramadan. In it, he expounds on the NATO military campaign in Libya.  

In the words of CIF Watch, a plain-talking and incisive watchdog that exposes the sickeningly high levels of anti-semitism and racism to be found in The Guardian and especially CIF, he offers presents an explicit ethical and religious endorsement of Muslims waging war against “infidels”.  Adwan writes:
Islamic experts assure me there is no prohibition of warfare during Ramadan. On the contrary, many of Islam’s great conquests occurred during this holy month, including the first clash between Muslims and infidels, which occurred in 624 when Muhammad led his troops to victory in the battle of Badr. War for the furtherance of Islam and against non-believers is considered ethically acceptable by scholars, even during the month of fasting and prayer.
Lucky for us, we're in the realm of ethically acceptable. What a relief.

Atwan contrasts this ethical waging of war during Ramadan with wars waged by non-Muslims:
Islamic clerics concur that it is absolutely prohibited for Muslims to seek the help of non-believers against fellow Muslims.
Is The Guardian endorsing this rather narrow view of ethics and of justifiable and unjustifiable war? CIFWatch says it's actually more serious than that. By continuing to post essays by Atwan, the editors at The Guardian
"...are making a conscious decision to provide a platform to an anti-Semite who openly supports religious extremism and terrorist attacks against innocent civilians... In the context of the Guardian’s continuing righteous condemnations of right wing political incitement, their decision to sanction an open advocate for violent religious extremism represents yet another example of their appalling moral hypocrisy."
We think moral hypocrisy is the right note to sound when reviewing the writings and rantings of Abdel al-Bari Atwan. The world is already too dangerous a place. Shame on those editors, The Guardians' in the vanguard, who lack the courage and moral integrity to call Atwan for what he is. And shame on the rest of us for allowing this man and those other editors, and so many others like them, to sow confusion in the minds of people directly threatened by this ongoing war and by the jihadists who stand behind it.

Getting these existential issues wrong, as they do chronically, is a terribly dangerous mistake for which ordinary people like us are liable to pay the price.

1 comment:

Juniper in the Desert said...

I am so glad our troops are not being called on the massacre more Syrians, as we can see they are very effective themselves. I prefer it that way too!! Except when they come to MY country!!