Islamic Voice
Rajab 1422
October 2001
Volume 15-10 No:178

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EDITORIAL


Media Onslaught
A Partisan Move

Media Onslaught

Let us take it in reverse fashion. Media’s capacity to manipulate — and by its extension to build too — public opinion will perhaps never be felt by us more vigorously. It was a chilling fortnight after the violent attack on the twin towers of World Trade Center in New York causing tragic loss of thousand of lives. Never in the past the Muslims the worldover had found themselves so helpless and expressionless against the media barrage. From the word go, the media led by the Jewish owned or manned multinational purveyors of news and views, CNN, BBC and Star News unleashed the propaganda insinuating the Muslim countries for the massive loss of lives and attack on New York and Pentagon. It was pretty clear that the West was carrying its overreaction to stupidity. First the needle of suspicion was refusing to deflect from the ‘rogue states’ and later stilled on Osama bin Laden. ‘Prove yourself innocent to wipe off the guilt’ became the dictum. Then the popular ire was fuelled by inserting the decade old footage of Palestinians celebrating in the West Bank. Then came the coverage of fanatically charged protestors in Pakistan chanting ‘Death to America’. The two images more than reinforced the much sought after Muslim ‘culpability’ the Jewish lobby required.

In the process they ensured that the rest of the world saw, what and how the hegemonic West wanted it to see and hear i.e., only one face of terrorism. Not the dying millions in Iraq. Not the atrocities of the Israeli terror squads against the Palestinians in their native land on a daily basis. Not the countless methods used by the West to exploit the rest. Not the gassed victims of Bhopal. Not the great killer Warren Anderson of Union Carbide. Not the Iranian airliner shot down by the US Navy over the Gulf.

Allah has blessed the Muslims with 66 countries all across the world. Yet the ummah has no centralized news network, no TV channels that transcend the national boundaries, no radio stations and no news exchange mechanism worth the name. The only news agency, International Islamic News Agency (IINA), based in Jeddah does nothing more than recycling the old stuff that it receives from periodicals from the Muslims organizations around the globe. The OIC, the Rabita Alam Al Islami, the Imam of Makkah were silent. Or were not heard?

As a result, the few desperate groups indulged in rebutting the Western claims, refuting the celebrations and suspecting the hand of the dreaded Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad on faceless e-mail networks. Whatever may be the truth, put together these could hardly ever have the credibility that the West’s newspapers, radio and TV networks have built over the centuries. Scarcely does the Islamic world understand that e-mail, website and posters are no match for voice and vision on the popular networks. The war for separating the truth from the falsehoods could not be waged in private media even while the popular media goes on with its brainwashing campaign.

The situation is unenviable for a 1.3 billion strong ummah, with a life-giving ideology, endowed with vast natural resources and enough human genius. Yet one wonders why there could be no single network doing the on-site reporting from the streets of Manhattan, interviewing officials in the State Department, covering the pain and anguish that America underwent and airing the comments from Islamic and strategic experts. No one understands why the OIC chief Abdelouhed Belkziz still remains a faceless person, with OIC website unable to put his photograph on display even a year after his election? How come Rabita with its enormous resources cannot speak out? Why no one in the Islamic world can logically analyse the root causes for terrorism?

It is easier to accuse the West and the Zionist lobby of bias, imbalance and for demonizing Muslims. But the harder part involves raising the infrastructure, bringing about cogency in the ummah on the issues and problems afflicting the humanity, and above all developing a humane worldview, the most important pre-requisite for a durable news apparatus. It is time to realize that those who fail to own, manage, and invest in media make themselves vulnerable to demonization by the rivals and have to ultimately pay a far bigger price by investing in weaponry and war which the rivals foist on them through their machinations. It is time Muslims world over thought of setting the priorities right and began supporting the expansion of whatever fragile media networks that exist in their lands and hands.

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A Partisan Move

The Union Government’s ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) besides being violative of democratic spirit, smacks of worst kind of partisanship. Though SIMI had shades of extremism, it has been more of the foolhardy character. Its wall posters calling for a second Mahmood Ghaznawi for India were surely provocative in nature but were far from being secessionist. The organization had largely behaved as a bunch of cynical upstarts who refuse to recognize the larger realities of polity.

It is not difficult to guess then that the ban on SIMI is more an urge fuelled by the political dynamics in Uttar Pradesh. The incumbent Bhartiya Janata Party is facing formidable foes for the approaching Assembly polls and needs to mobilize uppercaste votebank by showing some action. And what could be a better bet than appearing to be putting some “Islamic fanatics” behind bars. Moreover, it also suggests that the Union government has been desperate to be seen doing something to curb terrorism and was finding that the real terrorists are hard to get. SIMI could be an easy scapegoat. The vacuousness of the Union Government’s action is apparent from the fact that members of the Bajrang Dal and Durgavahini have been given a clean chit despite their being seen training with arms at camps in media photographs. Perhaps the Union Government believes in punishing its enemies for their crimes and while rewarding its friends for their crimes.

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