Stoking the Fires of the Holy War

Indonesia has long been a hotbed of discontent between Muslims and Christians. We all know that there’™s ‘œradicals’ and ‘œfundamentalists’ in both of these sectarian groups. However, it seems like perjorative terms such as these are only applied (at least in the Western media) to those of Islamic faith.

I don’™t recall any [...]

/wp/

Indonesia has long been a hotbed of discontent between Muslims and Christians. We all know that there’™s ‘œradicals’ and ‘œfundamentalists’ in both of these sectarian groups. However, it seems like perjorative terms such as these are only applied (at least in the Western media) to those of Islamic faith.

I don’™t recall any corporate media outlet using the term ‘œChristian extremist’ to describe Pat Robertson and his fatwa earlier this year, calling for the assasination of Hugo Chavez. However, when a horrific attack against three teenage girls takes place in Poso, Indonesia, western media takes great pain to report the possible attackers as ‘œradical muslims’ and the girls as ‘œChristian high school students, dressed in brown uniforms’.

With the description I just provided, I’™m positive that I don’™t need to issue anyone a thesaurus to further develop the mental imagery that’™s already been established.

I don’™t know if we, in Western culture, will every be able to get past the prejudices that stories like this bring to the surface. Each story similar to this one (which isn’™t even confirmed, for the most part) only serves to reinforce stereotypes. It would be so easy to rewrite the Reuters news copy in a non-prejudicial manner that would communicate the essence of what is known about the incident.

Straight reporting doesn’™t sell news services, though. I guess that’™s the nature of the business. Still, it is unfortunate that, in the tinderbox world in which we currently live, where any small spark could be the ignition point for an all-out holy war, editors can’™t use a bit more discretion when putting stories like this out on the wire.

Saturday, October 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Media

No Comments

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI