Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MEDIA: Crittenden attacks Georgetown inter-faith centre ...

ABC Religion Report presenter Stephen Crittenden today viciously attacked Georgetown University and one of its leading academics, Professor John Esposito. Professor Esposito is the author and editor of numerous books on Islam, Muslim societies and Islamist movements. He is also the author of a number of standard texts and authoritative reference works including:

* The Oxford History of Islam
* The Oxford Dictionary of Islam
* The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World (4 volumes)

Apart from these and many other works, Professor Esposito recently co-authored with Dalia Mogahed the book Who Speaks for Islam? What A Billion Muslims Really Think. That book is based on a Gallup World Poll - the largest study of its kind - conducted between 2001 and 2007, using a sample which represented

... residents young and old, educated and illiterate, female and male, and from urban and rural settings … representing more than 90% of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims.

I'm not aware of Mr Crittenden conducting any similar surveys or fieldwork amongst Muslims or indeed followers of any other faith. Still, that doesn't stop Crittenden from describing Esposito in these terms ...

... Georgetown University in Washington DC- the Jesuit University there - where the big department that looks at interreligious dialogue between - I think it is called Muslim and Christian understanding - is run by John Esposito who is in fact, in the West, one of -I guess- the leading academics of that "It's all the fault of the West" approach. (emphasis mine)

It would be interesting to see Crittenden point out which parts of Esposito's works would fit this description. It's easy to make throw-away remarks that disclose one's underlying sectarian prejudices. But Crittenden is employed by the ABC, an organisation that prides itself on balance and fairness. Unfortunately on this, as on so many other occasions, Mr Crittenden doesn't seem to have lived upto the standards set by his employer.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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