Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MEDIA: Media, violence and imams

Some readers will remember the 2006 media assault on Shaykh Hilaly over his infamous "catmeat" comments. Many of you would rather forget it. I guess it's all rather academic now.

It was hard to get a nuanced word in back in those days, with politicians and shockjocks and columnists baying for blood. And they weren't just after Hilaly's blood either.

AAP ran a story which was published on the Sydney Morning Herald website under the headline Lawyer attacks cleric media coverage. Here are the first few paragrasphs.

A Muslim human rights lawyer has attacked the media over its coverage of Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali during a women's rights function.
Alhilali's explosive comments comparing women who don't wear the Islamic headscarf to "uncovered meat" were also condemned at Australia's launch of the White Ribbon Day campaign in Sydney.

Er, the two functions were one and the same.

White Ribbon Day was created by 14 Canadian men in 1991 to denounce violence against women. The United Nations declared it an international day of activism the same year.
More than 200 politicians, sports stars, health professionals and cultural representatives will promote the worldwide campaign as "ambassadors" during the lead-up to White Ribbon Day on November 25.
One of the ambassadors at the launch, in the rocks, human rights lawyer and columnist Irfan Yusuf, condemned Sheik Alhilali's comments as "nonsense".
:If it weren't nonsense, then how do we explain the fact that women wearing head scarves sitting at home often get attacked as well?" he asked.

Fair enough. But what about the media? Is it the entire media? Or just select newspapers?

Then Mr Yusuf hit back at the media over the extent of the coverage of the sheik's sermon and its aftermath, calling responses by politicians and "allegedly conservative" columnists "sectarian-wedge politics".
The sheik's controversial remarks, condemned by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, received media coverage worldwide.
"I found it amazing that one particular newspaper spent eight pages on the issue of Sheik (Alhilali) and his comments," he said.
"You would have thought Sheik (Alhilali) just delivered the budget, or he just won his third election in a row."

Actually much more was said. But then you can't control how your words are reported and then interpreted. Or vice versa.  Still, it's all academic.

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