Shoddy Journalism

2013-06-23 17:42

Although the Daily Maverick need to be commended for their unprecedented apology over inaccuracies contained in the article “Al-Qaeda: Alive and Well in South Africa” by journalist De Wet Potgieter, the confession does not address the reputational damage done to Muslims.

This is disappointing considering the mass media’s crucial role in breaking down dominant stereotypical narratives and myths.

Such ill-conceived articles, comments and careless journalism cannot be accepted.  Journalists are opinion formers and write about human beings, therefore they should inform critically, responsibly, honestly and with utmost accuracy.

Tagging a religion and a whole community with the same tag of terrorism or extremism is unacceptable and this justifies the argument that many in the media have much to learn.

To quote Sipho Ngcobo: “there is a lot of shoddy journalism going on and if the industry does not do something about this, journalism is going to become irrelevant and the industry is going to die a natural death.”

Just like those peace-loving citizens of the World, Muslims are also concerned about terrorism and public safety. It is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with extremism, fascism or terrorism. Unfortunately, such "ill-conceived" and "inappropriate" comments made by some people can increase hatred of Muslims. It can also increase hatred against Western countries and people.

Islam and its teachings are not the problem. Misrepresentation and agent provocateurs are our obstacles to progress and co-existence.

Islam should not be blamed for the deaths of people. It is a few reactionary individuals or groups who have used religion as an excuse for perpetrating violence against other people. Religion itself is not the problem.

The Muslim greeting: Assalamu- Alaikum ( peace be upon you) evidences not only the Muslim desire for peace but also for the peaceful co- existence with others. This principle has characterized the lives of Muslims in South Africa generally and I hope and pray that South Africans will not allow the enemies of Muslims and Islam to damage this good and harmonious position.

Terms like liberal Muslims, Islamists and Jihadist do not make sense to me. A Muslim is a Muslim.  The Quran, traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) and the consensus of the Scholars are the sources of guidance for Muslims. Anything else like suicide bombings, unjust killings, hatred, bigotry, terrorism, just to name a few, are not the teachings of Islam. Period!

Together with tolerance, truth and justice, knowledge is also an important element for greater interfaith understanding and to ease the current global tensions between believers of different faiths.

Regretfully, individuals’ ignorance and jaundiced views would always control their outlook to others just as darkness or night brings about uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

The former president of America George Bush, a born-again Christian said: “that God had inspired him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq” and “that I am driven with a mission from God”.

So by using some individuals syllogistic reasoning then it is okay to say that all Christian people are not unkind people, but all Christian countries are guilty for the most gruesome deaths worldwide caused by dropping the most lethal bombs in their weapon store, anywhere, almost with complete impunity, in the most coward way, on innocent women, children, elderly and ill people.

Reducing global problems to Islam and Muslims is totally unjust and unfair, while, Western imperialism, capitalism and greed, the real perpetrators of terrorism and violence, are ignored.

At a time when the entire world is gripped by events that aim to drive a wedge between East and West, one would have thought it prudent to say the least, not to exacerbate the existing tensions by publishing such an inaccurate and offensive article.


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