Thursday, September 13, 2012

Extremist Religious Views Dominate The News But Don’t Represent The Faiths

By Jack Jenkins 
Originally posted 9/13/12 at ThinkProgress

If you turned on the news anytime this past week, you were probably greeted with at least one of the following images: angry people shouting and burning American flags, an American pastor making snide remarks about Islam, or the charred, graffiti-covered remains of the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

The images, of course, documented the recent killing of Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and other American diplomats by militants, and the uproar in the Middle East over an allegedly American-made film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. In response, right-wing pundits were quick to weigh in with an old narrative: the social and religious differences of the West and the Middle East are insurmountable, and will inevitably lead to violence.

But you might not have seen this: hundreds of Libyan men, women and children assembled in the streets of Benghazi, holding up signs with slogans that read: “Thugs and Killers don’t represent Benghazi or Islam,” “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,” and “Sorry People of America this not behavior of Islam or profit [sic].”

You also probably didn’t hear about the Coptic Christians who joined Muslims in expressing peaceful disapproval of the film, or an Israeli Rabbi who condemned both the film and the attacks on the American diplomats.

You didn’t see or read about these people because they weren’t considered “newsworthy” – explosions tend to capture national attention more than peaceful protests. But just because these events didn’t attract journalists doesn’t make their message any less important: in the midst of violence and anger, these faithful people represent the majority of Muslims, Christians, and Jews whose beliefs and voices are being held hostage by the hateful bellowing of an angry few.

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