Colombo Telegraph

A ‘Muslim’ Thing?

By Hameed Abdul Karim

Hameed Abdul Karim

‘The media are the eyes and the ears of the people’

When was the last time you read a piece in your favourite newspaper informing you of what’s going in Kashmir? Or about the nasty nature of Zionism which is the ideology of the Israeli occupiers of Palestine?

Never mind. We’ll come back to that in a while.

For now let’s celebrate the new found freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and rejoice with her as she basks in glory whilst world leaders fall over each other to shake her hand. She deserves every bit of accolade for her long and unfaltering and unwavering stand for freedom and justice for herself and her people against a tyrannical military junta.

Years before she was set free, we had that wonderful humanist and revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela walk out of prison after an agonising 27 year imprisonment. And the world erupted with cries of joy. His release was a death blow to the spiteful apartheid ideology of White supremacists. Only racists like former US vice president Dick Cheney thought he should remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Another truly inspiring man that springs to mind is that ever smiling Dalai Lama as he moves round the world looking to free his people in Tibet from Chinese rule. All freedom loving people in the world support him in one way or another and, of course, wish him luck.

Who can forget Xanana Gusmao and Manuel Ramos Horta the charismatic leaders of East Timor? They gave unflinching leadership to their people as they fought the overbearing regime of Suharto. When they achieved independence there was hardly anyone around who wasn’t happy for them and for their people.

Then there were the Viet Cong leaders who thrashed the Americans in Vietnam. The Americans derided them as ‘peasants in pygamas’ and yet it was they who gave the Americans a hiding they haven’t forgotten till today. Afghanistan was supposed to bury the ghost of Vietnam. But Afghanistan is now being described as another ‘Vietnam’. The poltergeist won’t go away.

Mahatma Gandhi figures prominently in world history for his non violent struggle for his country’s independence from Great Britain.  To this day the world reveres his memory.

Who can forget that enigmatic man who went by the name of Che Guevara? Indeed his name and his memory are synonymous with any rebel seeking justice from oppressive regimes in the world. Here in Sri Lanka we have seen quite a few tuk tuks with the slogan ‘Che Wants You to Rebel’ emblazoned under his iconic picture.

Then there is Fidel Castro. To this day he inspires people all over the world with insightful discourse on Western imperialism

What is common among all these charismatic and extraordinary leaders is that virtually all the print media in Sri Lanka supported them and their causes to the hilt with nary a word of criticism, and quite rightly so. There was absolutely no ‘balance’ in the articles giving the ‘other side’ of the story. And this was a laudable line of attack because their causes were certainly just.

But when it comes to the issue of Kashmir and Palestine there seems to be a deafening silence within the press with media authorities calling for a ‘balance’ or in other words wanting to give both sides of the story. There was no ‘balance’ in the stories of apartheid or Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor or the stories of the legendary Che Guevara, because it is impossible to balance right with wrong, or justice with injustice, or  good with evil, or truth with falsehood or oppressor with the oppressed.

Have we read anywhere in any of our newspapers anybody attempting to ‘balance’ already held beliefs about Hitler and his gangs of Nazis?

In the case of Kashmir, clearly India is the oppressor. Kashmir is described in the Orwellian brand name of India’s choosing – ‘Indian Administered Kashmir’ while Azad Kashmir is referred to as ‘Pakistani Occupied Kashmir’, that is in the rare moments when some news escapes India’s strict censorship on information on its occupation of Kashmir.

In the case of Palestine it’s patently clear that Israel is the oppressor. But still Israel is handled with kid’s gloves. Favourable news of Israel often get’s published in the print media here in Sri Lanka when the local press carries stories from foreign newspapers or Western news agencies which are virulently biased in Israel’s favour. The authors of these reports don’t care two hoots for ‘balance’.

Israel’s recent dismissal of Rachel Corrie’s case is a perfect illustration of how the Western media supports Israel in its gross violations of human rights and international law. Going by the reports in the Western media, readers might be pardoned if they assumed Rachel Corrie was a ‘terrorist’ as indeed hinted by some reports.

At least two local papers often ‘copy and paste’ stories from the ‘The Daily Mail’ and ‘The Telegraph’, both are known to be ardent supporters of Israel. They have never been known to direct a single word of criticism against the Zionist state. Why, as recently as the 4th of August 2012 the ‘Daily Mail’ castigated the BBC for its alleged ‘anti-Israel’ stand! And ‘The Telegraph’ gave a distorted and shameless view of the anti-Israeli protesters who stopped an Israeli dance performance at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival. Neither of these two papers thought they should ‘balance’ their reports. Yet we have to look for ‘balance’.

For sure the local press was ‘Palestine friendly’ at one point of time. But then the Israeli ambassador to Sri Lanka (stationed in New Delhi) came a calling. He had a few have chats with heads of newspapers and  ever since then articles that project the reality of Zionism and Israel’s pitiless occupation of Palestine came to an abrupt end. Were his ‘lectures’ to our media personnel the reason why Zionism is not dealt with in the same way as were Apartheid and Nazism? Evil is evil, even though it may come in different hues.

Sometime one wonders why Kashmir and Palestine are been given a step motherly treatment? Why are these two issues not treated as humanitarian ones like the conflicts mentioned above? Could it be because of the ‘Muslim’ thing?

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