-Read the excerpt below from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies president Cliff May.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.
From a commentary by Cliff May (go to defenddemocracy.org for the original post):
Imagine if [evangelical Christian leader] Pat Robertson called for the demolition of all the mosques in America. It would be front-page news. It would be on every network and cable news program. There would be a demand for Christians to denounce him, and denounce him they would — in the harshest terms. The President of the United States and other world leaders would weigh in, too. Rightly so.
So why is it that when Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, declares that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula,” the major media do not see this as even worth reporting? And no one, to the best of my knowledge, has noted that he said this to the members of a terrorist group.
Here are the facts:
Some members of the Kuwaiti parliament have been seeking to demolish churches or at least prohibit the construction of new ones within that country’s borders. So the question arose: What does Sharia, Islamic law, have to say about this issue?
A delegation from Kuwait asked the Saudi Grand Mufti for guidance. He replied that Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula — and any churches on the Arabian Peninsula should indeed be destroyed because the alternative would be to approve of them. The Grand Mufti explained: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us, ‘Two religions shall not coexist in the Arabian Peninsula,’ so building [churches] in the first place is not valid because this Peninsula must be free from [any other religion.]” In Saudi Arabia, of course, non-Islamic houses of worship were banned long ago and non-Muslims are prohibited from setting foot in Mecca and Medina.
The inquiring Kuwaitis were from the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS). That sounds innocent enough, but a little digging by Steve Miller, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, revealed that ten years ago the RIHS branches in Afghanistan and Pakistan were designated by the United Nations as associates of — and providers of funds and weapons to – “Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban.”
The U.S. government has gone further, designating also RIHS headquarters in Kuwait for “providing financial and material support to al Qaida and al Qaida affiliates, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba” which was “implicated in the July 2006 attack on multiple Mumbai commuter trains, and in the December 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament.” Such activities have caused RIHS offices to be “closed or raided by the governments of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Russia.”
This should be emphasized: Al al-Sheikh is not the Arabian equivalent of some backwoods Florida pastor [who publicly burned a Koran in 2011 and was widely condemned by the media]. He is the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where there is no separation of mosque and state, and the state religion is the ultra-orthodox/fundamentalist reading of Islam known as Wahhabism. He also is a member of the country’s leading religious family.
In other words, his pronouncements represent the official position of Saudi Arabia – a country that, we have been told time and again, changed course after 9/11/01 and is now our ally and solidly in the anti-terrorism camp.
Why are reporters [who cover] the State Department and the White House not asking administration officials whether they are troubled by Saudi Arabia’s senior religious authority meeting with supporters of al-Qaeda and telling them that, yes, Christian churches should be demolished? Why have reporters covering the UN decided these issues are of no concern to the so-called international community? How about the centers for “Islamic-Christian understanding” that have been established – with Saudi money – at such universities as Harvard and Georgetown: Do they suppose there is nothing here to understand – no need for any academic scrutiny of the Saudi/Wahhabi perspective on church-burning and relations with terrorist groups?
My guess is that all of the above have persuaded themselves that here are more pressing issues to worry about, such as the world-wide epidemic of “Islamophobia” and the need to impose serious penalties on those responsible. I understand. I really do.
1. What types of bias has the media exhibited by not reporting on Al al-Sheikh’s pronouncement?
2. From the excerpt: “Al al-Sheikh is not the Arabian equivalent of some backwoods Florida pastor. He is the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where there is no separation of mosque and state. His pronouncements represent the official position of Saudi Arabia – a country that, we have been told time and again, changed course after 9/11/01 and is now our ally and solidly in the anti-terrorism camp.”
Why do you think the U.S. media is ignoring this important story? Be specific.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
1. Bias by omission and story selection.
2. Opinion question. Answers vary.