MUSLIM HATE OF JOURNALISTS!
From Ivan Watson, CNN
September 10, 2011 8:54 p.m. EDT
Cairo (CNN) -- An angry crowd lingering near the Israeli embassy in Cairo after an attack on the building a day earlier turned on journalists reporting the incident Saturday, accusing at least one of being an Israeli spy.
As a CNN crew filmed the embassy from across the street, another crew from American public television -- led by Egyptian television producer Dina Amer -- approached the building.
The crew's Russian cameraman was preparing to film the embassy when a woman in the crowd began hurling insults at the TV team, Amer said.
"There was this older lady who decided to follow me and rally people against me," Amer recalled.
"She said 'you're a spy working with the Americans.' Then they swarmed me and I was a target."
A growing crowd surrounded Amer and her colleagues, as they tried to leave the scene.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, a producer working for CNN, rushed to help escort Amer through the angry crowd. But suddenly the two reporters were pinned against the railing of an overpass by young men who were accusing Amer of being an Israeli spy.
Yelling "I'm Egyptian," Fahmy managed to pull Amer another 10 meters down the road, until the pressure from the mob overwhelmed the pair.
Amer screamed as she and Fahmy were knocked to the ground and the crowd started to trample them.
Other CNN journalists tried to reach in to help, but were pushed back by a wall of angry men.
Fahmy lay on top of Amer, shielding her with his body.
"I was thinking, how powerless I was because there was no police to save us," Fahmy said. "I was worried that they were going to rape her."
At that moment, a student bystander named Mohammed el Banna called out to the journalists and pointed out a nearby car.
Somehow, Fahmy managed to carry Amer to the open door of the public television crew's car, where two of her female colleagues were waiting just a few feet away.
The mob pounded on the windows and tried to reach into the vehicle as the panicked reporters fumbled and struggled to get behind the steering wheel.
When Margaret Warner, a correspondent with the PBS program "Newshour" managed to get the vehicle moving away from the crowd, men threw stones at the departing vehicle.
Amer had few words to describe the terrifying ordeal.
"They were animals," she said.
Other Egyptian journalists told CNN they were also attacked Saturday while trying to report near the Israeli embassy.
Ahmed Aleiba, a correspondent with Egyptian state television, said he was pursued by civilians and soldiers.
"I had to run because obviously they were targeting journalists," Aleiba said in a phone call with CNN. "They attacked two other TV crews."
"I was in the car getting ready to film. A soldier knocked on the window with his stick and said 'if you don't leave by midnight your car will be destroyed,"" said Farah Saafan, a video journalist with the English-language newspaper Daily News Egypt.
Journalists have been targeted before in Cairo.
On February 2, dozens of journalists of different nationalities were beaten and pursued around the city while trying to report on pro-Mubarak demonstrations. The day descended into one of brutal street violence, as pro-regime supporters backed by men on horses and camels attacked opposition demonstrators on what became known as the "Battle of the Camel."
And CBS News correspondent Lara Logan suffered a brutal sexual assault in Tahrir Square while covering the celebrations that followed former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on February 11.
On Saturday, as some journalists ran for their lives from the Israeli Embassy, the interim government was holding crisis talks with Egypt's ruling military council and top intelligence chief.
The emergency session concluded with a pledge to honor Egypt's international treaties and defend foreign embassies. The government also announced plans to re-activate the country's 30-year-old emergency law.
Application of the law had lapsed since the overthrow of Mubarak, according to a senior official in the National Security Directorate, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.
One of the five measures announced after Saturday's crisis talks calls on authorities to make "media and political powers accountable for inciting security lapses."
that there is some sort of plan leading to military rule in this
country," warned Egyptian state TV's Aleiba. "The next step will be
Cairo mob brutally assaulted CBS reporter Lara Logan
By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Feb 15, 2011
A mob in Tahrir Square brutally beat and sexually assaulted CBS News' chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, who was covering Friday's celebration of the departure of former president Hosni Mubarak, the network says. She is in a U.S. hospital recovering.
CBS says Logan, who was reporting for 60 Minutes, was surrounded by more than 200 people "whipped into frenzy." She then became separated from her TV crew and security and then suffered a "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating." She was saved by a group of women and about 20 Egyptian soldiers, and reconnected with her colleagues CBS says. Saturday she flew back to the United States and is now in a hospital. The network said it would have no further comment.
The Washington Post notes that 39-year-old Logan, who joined CBS in 2002, is the mother of two young children. She met her husband, Joe Burkett, a defense contractor, in Baghdad while covering the war.
The attack highlights the risks female journalists face, The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta writes.
Most mainstream American news outlets have a policy of not naming the survivors of sexual assault and it is hard to imagine that CBS would have issued this statement, which landed like a thunderbolt in the close-knit media world, without Logan's permission. That makes her one very brave woman, as news of the attack ricocheted across Twitter and newspapers with lightning speed.
Bakery leader embraced guns long before editor's killing
Peele, Bob Butler and Mary Fricker
The Chauncey Bailey Project
The Mercury News
OAKLAND — Yusuf Bey IV was heavily involved in guns and gun violence well before the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey last year — a killing he is suspected of ordering — despite his claims to police that he didn't allow weapons at Your Black Muslim Bakery and disavowed their use.
Recorded jailhouse telephone calls and three statements given to police before and after Bailey's Aug. 2, 2007, killing implicate Bey IV in a 2006 shooting of a car belonging to the former boyfriend of a woman with whom he was involved and a June 2007 shootout at a San Francisco nightclub. He was not charged in either incident.
The statements, though, given by two former bakery workers and the person whose car was shot dozens of times, portray Bey IV as an out-of-control gang leader obsessed with violence and power, yet one who ordered followers to commit crimes rather than dirty his own hands.
Oakland police Assistant Chief Howard Jordan declined a request for an interview. Bey IV's lawyer, Anne Beles, did not return messages.
The Chauncey Bailey Project is not identifying the workers for their safety.
One worker told police, in a recording, that men at the organization had to prove their "loyalty to him. But it's like, he's the boss, you do what he say."
In a recorded jail telephone call, the same worker called Bey IV's followers "little errand boys. That's how all of them are, that's how come all of them are in jail.
If you're so big and bad, you'd go do that (expletive) yourself."
"He's a punk. He's a little wimp. He wouldn't do that (expletive) on his own at all," a man with whom the worker was speaking replied.
Another bakery worker said of Bey IV to detectives: "He's living in this box, and he couldn't see out of it. It's like he didn't know the real world compared to Your Black Muslim Bakery."
Authorities now say Bey IV ordered Bailey killed because the journalist was working on a story about the bakery's bankruptcy filing and internal strife. The only person charged in the shotgun slaying, bakery dishwasher Devaughndre Broussard, confessed to the killing, then recanted and pleaded not guilty. He is to stand trial next year.
Bey IV has said he had no involvement in the journalist's killing. He and three followers are jailed without bail in an unrelated kidnapping and torture case for which he faces a life sentence if convicted. Another follower pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testimony.
The handling of the case, led by homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire, is being investigated by the Oakland police internal affairs and the state attorney general. Longmire will transfer to the patrol division in February — a reassignment police described as routine, not related to his work on the Bailey case.
Longmire's lawyer, Michael Rains, said his client did nothing wrong.
"He was not protecting Yusuf Bey IV, nor has he protected any member of the bakery. He was urging the police department to involve itself in an aggressive investigation of the bakery," Rains said.
The Chauncey Bailey Project reported in October that Longmire failed to document in his case notes evidence linking Bey IV to a conspiracy to kill the journalist, including data from a tracking device that showed Bey IV was outside Bailey's apartment seven hours before the killing.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office is investigating Bailey's killing independently of Oakland police.
The Bailey Project reported in October that one of the workers also told police that the night before the Bailey killing that Bey IV, Broussard, and another man, Antoine Mackey, prayed for strength. Bey IV also complained that he had to awaken at 5 a.m. the next day, Aug. 2, the worker said.
A man who worked at the bakery has also told police that Bey IV came to him about dawn and borrowed his white van, which had no license plates. Witnesses told police they saw a masked gunman kill Bailey and run to a waiting white van without license plates.
After the killing, the worker told police that Bey IV boasted, "that will teach them to (expletive) with me," according to a police recording.
Longmire also failed to challenge Bey IV in recorded interviews. Experts, including a retired judge, who listened to recordings, said he was deferential to the then 21-year-old bakery leader, who he had befriended. "He sounded like a defense attorney leading a witness," said one Oakland officer who listened to the recordings and spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
In the recordings, Bey denies firearm use, although witness accounts contradict him.
According to Bey: "We never had to resort to gun violence, since I've been on the bakery. It's always, you know, face-to-face, it's just unarmed."
But in early December, Bey IV ordered followers to shoot up a car belonging to a man, Cameren Cook, who had argued with one of his half brothers, Yusuf Bey V, a bakery worker told police.
"They were ordered to do it," the worker said of the shooters to police. Among them, the worker said, was Broussard. "It's basically what (Bey IV) says goes."
The worker told police that Bey IV had to be talked out of having Cook killed, choosing to destroy the car instead.
In June 2007, Bey IV arrived at a San Francisco nightclub toting a loaded AK-47 assault rifle, another bakery worker told police. Several of his followers were working as security guards there when gunfire erupted.
One person was wounded and San Francisco police made five arrests on gun charges. Bey IV hid the rifle in the back of a Corvette belonging to another of his half-brothers, Yusuf Bey III, and slipped away, the worker told Oakland police.
San Francisco police found the gun in the Corvette the day after the nightclub shooting. An officer said ballistics tests were performed, but it remained unclear if the weapon was linked to any other incidents.
Bombs going off
A few minutes before 2 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2006, a barrage of gunfire erupted at Aileen and Gaskill streets in North Oakland. Cameren Cook, who had worked at the bakery as a teenager, found his Mitsubishi riddled by more than 30 shotgun and rifle rounds.
"It sounded like bombs going off," Cook told police months later in a recorded statement. He immediately suspected members of the bakery because of a dispute he had with Yusuf Bey V, the leader's half brother.
Cook, who could not be reached for comment, told police that Bey IV was enamored with guns and that he had seen the bakery leader wearing a holstered large caliber pistol on his hip.
No arrests have been made in the incident.
A bakery worker familiar with the shooting told police in August 2007 that Bey IV ordered the shooting, leading about half a dozen armed men to Cook's residence but then left before the gunfire. The worker told police that Bey IV had to be talked out of having Cook killed.
The worker told police that Bey IV told the gunmen —‰'wait until I'm around the corner, wait 'til I drive off and get around the corner' and then. So it's not like he was there, he was but he wasn't."
"They were ordered to do it," the worker said of the shooters.
After the shooting, the gunmen followed Bey IV's orders to split up and take divergent routes back to the bakery. The leader gathered "up all the guns that they used and he came back in and went to bed like it was nothing," said the worker.
The weapons included AK-47 assault rifles and a black sawed-off shotgun used eight months later to kill Bailey.
Seven months after the car shooting, in June 2007, several of Bey IV's followers were apparently working as security guards at the Fanatics nightclub on Caesar Chavez Street in San Francisco.
The crowd turned unruly, according to police reports. Bey IV arrived at the scene in a red Corvette owned by another of his half brothers, Yusuf Bey III. He soon sped back across the Bay to Oakland, where he grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle and returned to San Francisco, another bakery worker familiar with his actions told police in a recorded statement.
Back at the nightclub, more than 300 people were milling about. Bey IV took the assault rifle from the car's trunk and began to approach the crowd when gunfire broke out, the bakery worker said.
Bey IV threw the weapon back into the car as police moved in, the worker told police. A man running away was shot in the foot. Police arrested six people on gun charges.
Bey IV abandoned his half-brothers Corvette and slipped away. The next day, police responded to the car's alarm going off and found the fully-loaded AK-47 and confiscated the vehicle.
San Francisco police Lt. Mikail Ali said Oakland police contacted his department about the statement obtained concerning the nightclub shootout. San Francisco officers then told Oakland police a gun had been found that may have been used in the Cook car shooting.
Neither department brought charges. Ali said it is uncertain if anyone investigated whether the gun from the Corvette was used in shooting seven months before.
"That's not clear. You'd have to do ballistics tests," he said. Another officer said the tests were done by the state Department of Justice and likely sent to Oakland. Oakland police refused to comment on the case.
By Shaikh Azizur Rahman
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
October 22, 2005
DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A chill ran down the
spine of journalist Mizanur Rahman when a neatly folded white cloth symbolizing
an Islamic burial shroud tumbled out of a package he received by mail last
An accompanying letter addressed to Mr. Rahman, a reporter for the Dhaka
daily Janakantha (People's Voice), said that because of his "anti-Islamic"
reporting, his days were numbered and he would soon be in a white burial shroud.
White shrouds and death threats also reached eight other journalists the
same day in Satkhira, a district in southwestern Bangladesh.
The letters were signed by leaders of the outlawed militant group Jagrata
Muslim Janata Bangladesh (Awakened Muslim Citizens of Bangladesh, often referred
to by its initials, JMJB), the orthodox Islamist movement Ahl-e-Hadith
(followers of the Sayings of the Prophet) and Jamat-e-Islami Bangladesh, an
Islamist political party in the ruling coalition in Bangladesh. The letters
threatened that the journalists would be "slaughtered" because their writings
attacked clerics who want to transform the country into a pure Islamic state.
"We are determined to bring total Islamic rule in Bangladesh through an
armed revolution," the letters said. "You are some of the obstacles on our way
to achieve these goals. You are the country's enemies, so you face removal from
Of the nine reporters who received these death threats, five are Hindus, and
the letters warned them that as non-Muslims, they had no right to report on
Kalyan Banerjee, a Hindu reporter for the popular Dhaka daily Pratham Alo
(First Light), said: "In the letter accompanying the kafan (burial shroud) they
said to me, Hindu religious functions would not be allowed in Pak Bangla (Holy
Bangladesh) and no Hindu will be allowed to vote in the next parliamentary
elections in Bangladesh. They will be slaughtered if they try to vote."
Mr. Banerjee, who reported on growing Islamist extremist activities in the
area in a recent series of reports, said that he is also getting threatening
calls from unknown people on his cell phone.
JMJB and Ahl-e-Hadith, among other Islamist groups, were accused of
masterminding the Aug. 17 violence in which more than 400 bombs exploded
simultaneously across Bangladesh, killing two persons and injuring more than
This month, the authorities announced a reward of $15,200 for information
leading to the arrest of underground JMJB chief Siddiqur Islam, alias Bangla
Also this month, JMJB claimed responsibility for a series of Oct. 3
courtroom bombings in three towns that killed two persons and injured more than
50. The radical group has been campaigning to establish strict Islamic rule in
Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country governed by secular laws.
Statistics suggest that journalism is a dangerous profession in Bangladesh.
In the past10 years, at least 19 journalists have been murdered and more than
800 have been injured in attacks by Islamist fundamentalists, political parties,
criminals and various government agencies including the police.
Dipankar Chakrabarty, editor of a regional daily Durjoy Bangla (Invincible
Bangla) was hacked to death with a machete in the central town of Sherpur last
Before his death, he told Reporters Without Borders that anonymous callers
were threatening him by phone with death if he did not stop reporting on the
ties between some powerful politicians and a criminal organization in the area.
In January 2004, a bomb in the southwestern district of Khulna killed Manik
Saha, a reporter for the Dhaka daily New Age and stringer for the British
Some of his colleagues think Mr. Saha was killed because of his book
investigating shrimp mafias who were converting paddy fields into shrimp farms,
damaging the environment. The veteran journalist received many death threats by
phone before he was slain.
A banned extremist Maoist group called Purba Bangla Communist Party (PBCP)
claimed responsibility for the Saha murder. A week after the killing, PBCP
threatened nine other reporters with death if they did not stop writing about
the dead reporter.
In another bomb attack at Khulna in February, the PBCP injured three
journalists and killed Belal Ahmed, a reporter with the national daily Dainik
Sangram (Daily Struggle). The Maoist group -- which claimed to have killed four
journalists, all "enemies of the poor" -- says it has 30 other journalists on
its hit list.
Golam Mortoza, executive editor of Weekly 2000, an investigative weekly,
recently received a death threat from unknown groups. He said in Dhaka that many
politically frustrated ex-Maoist cadres had formed criminal gangs who are
targeting journalists reporting on extortion and racketeering.
Sumi Khan, a Weekly 2000 crime reporter who was stabbed by unidentified assailants last year, agrees. "I was targeted because I reported how religious extremists, criminal mafias and illegal gunrunners were thriving in my area," she said.
"Such attacks on the media throughout the country try to block the free flow of
Mrs. Khan, who narrowly escaped death, was awarded the Guardian newspaper's
Hugo Young Award for courageous journalism in London this year.
Although most of the journalists threatened in Bangladesh exposed
corruption, crime and growing religious extremism, some have been targeted for
revealing the covert activities of politicians.
"At election time, the major political parties accept help from shady
political elements to win votes," said Naim Islam Khan, president of the
Bangladesh Center for Development, Journalism and Communication.
"Some take donations from criminal gangs, providing protection in exchange,"
so reporters exposing such politician-criminal connections face threats to their
Although police have registered more than a thousand cases of violence
against journalists in the past10 years, nearly all cases remain unsolved.
Journalists in Bangladesh have even been targeted by the government.
Nurul Kabir, executive editor of the Dhaka daily New Age, thinks reporters
in Bangladesh are targeted by parts of the government because they expose
activities or plans that many citizens oppose.
"Journalists who are critical about corruption and malfeasance in ruling
circles are being targeted -- especially outside the capital -- by activists
supporting the ruling coalition. They are also attacked by supporters of the
main opposition Awami League when they reveal its indifference toward people's
suffering," Mr. Kabir said.
In 2002, Saleem Samad, a stringer for Time magazine, was detained by the
army for helping a British Channel 4 team film a documentary on Islamist
extremism and persecution of minority Hindus in Bangladesh.
Mr. Samad was released after 55 days of detention, following protests from
human- and media-rights groups outside the country.
"[The army] told me to sign a statement admitting that I engaged in
activities detrimental to the national interest. When I refused to sign the
false statement, they started torturing me in a dark, tiny cell. They did not
give me enough food and water. I was released only after the High Court ruled
that my detention was illegal," said Mr. Samad.
Last year, when Mr. Samad was in Canada to attend an international seminar,
the army, apparently at the behest of the government, raided his home in Dhaka
looking for him. Friends and relatives advised him not to return to Bangladesh,
and the 52-year-old journalist has applied for political asylum in Canada.
"Although I don't like to live in a foreign land, I cannot return to my
country. I know this time they would kill me. They are angry because of my last
Time write-up which described Bangladesh as a country in utter 'dysfunction,' "
said Mr. Samad, who is now living in Ottawa as a refugee as the Canadian
government considers his application for asylum.
"Death threats are becoming a pervasive and insidious part of daily life for
journalists in Bangladesh," said Christopher Warren, president of the
International Federation of Journalists. "The intimidation [of journalists] is a
direct violation of civil rights and liberties, which are the basic tools for a
The bitter rivalry between Begum Khaleda Zia, the prime minister of
Bangladesh, and opposition leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed has polarized the whole
country. Even journalists are now politicized to a point where individual
editors, reporters and newspapers are better known for their political leanings
than for the contents of their work.
A senior editor at a popular daily in Dhaka said: "Until a few years ago, you would find most of us with independent views, but now we are either Khaleda Zia supporters or belong to Sheikh Hasina's camp. Unless the two groups are reunited, journalists will continue to be attacked in Bangladesh. But this will never happen unless the two top political leaders come to good terms."
Newspapers gagged over cartoon slur
February 04, 2006
The council of Muslim
theologians has obtained a court interdict barring newspapers under the Johncom
and Independent groups from publishing the controversial cartoons of the prophet
Mohammed. The order means that the Sunday Times, Sunday Tribune,
and the The Independent will not publish the cartoons.
Mondli Makhanya, the Sunday Times editor, says the paper had opposed the council's application on the principle that it should not be dictated to by any outside influences.
Ferial Hafajee, the Mail and Guardian editor, says she regrets any harm caused by the weekly's publishing of one of the controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. The paper yesterday published the cartoon.
The picture is one of 12 originally published in a Danish newspaper in September last year. They have subsequently appeared on several European newspapers, sparking outrage in the Muslim world. Hafajee says the intention was to show readers what the outcry is about.
Editor to be tried over Mohammed cartoon
From correspondents in Jakarta
July 21, 2006
AN Indonesian editor detained for posting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on his newspaper website earlier this year has been released from prison but will face trial for offending Islam.
Teguh Santosa, 35, was freed from a Jakarta prison last night after being held there for 24 hours by the prosecutor's office, police detective Aries Syarif Hidayat said.
Mr Santosa, who is the chief editor of the Rakyat Merdeka Online newspaper, will still have to face trial for publishing the cartoons in February, Hidayat said.
He faces a maximum five years' imprisonment if convicted.
Prosecutors have charged Mr Santosa with two counts of "inciting animosity and hatred" towards Islam.
The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first printed 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed last September and a slew of other, mostly European, newspapers have followed suit, sparking outrage in the Muslim world.
Islam considers images of the prophet to be blasphemous.
Mr Santosa, quoted by the Koran Tempo newspaper today, said he was only trying to give readers a complete story on the controversial cartoons.
"It was in accordance with my job as a journalist," he reportedly said.
Denmark in February temporarily closed its mission in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, and warned its nationals to leave the country after weeks of protests.
Ayatollah issues fatwa calling for two journalists in Azerbaijan to be killed
December 3, 2006
Reporters without borders
Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today about a fatwa (religious decree) issued by an Iranian ayatollah calling for two journalists in neighbouring Azerbaijan to be killed for an allegedly blasphemous article. The fatwa’s targets are Rafiq Nazar Oughlo Taghizadh of the Azerbaijani fortnightly Sanat (“Industry”) and his editor Samir Sadaght Oughlo.
“We urge the Iranian authorities to calm people down as there has been a great deal of tension since the publication of Mohammed cartoons in a Danish newspaper last February,” the press freedom organisation said. “We also ask the Azerbaijani authorities to do everything necessary to protect these two journalists.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “It is deeply shocking and completely unacceptable that religious fundamentalists should call for the murder of two people who just expressed their opinions.”
The offending article was written by Taghizadh, 56, for the newspaper’s 6 November issue. Entitled “Europe and us,” its claim that European values were superior to those of Muslim countries sparked outrage in both Azerbaijan (a Muslim country) and Iran.
Fazel Lankarani (photo), one of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s leading ayatollah’s, issued the fatwa in response to appeals for advice from Azerbaijani Muslims. Posted on his website (www.lankarani.org) on 25 November, it calls for both the “apostate” journalist who wrote the article and the editor who published it to be killed.
One Dallas journo’s experience
Two years after standing on the Brooklyn Bridge and watching the second tower fall, I joined the Dallas Morning News. My wife, a native Dallasite, praises our new city as “a September 10 kind of place.” She means that the anxieties attending our post-9/11 New York life simply don’t exist here. The downside is that people lull themselves into a false sense of security about the Muslim community. From where I sit, it looks to me as though the entire mainstream media also live in a September 10 kind of place. We—and I say “we” because I’m part of the dreaded MSM—really don’t want to know what’s happening among Muslims in Dallas, Brooklyn, or anywhere else.
Dallas is home to a large and relatively prosperous Muslim community. The Dallas Central Mosque is Texas’s largest. The area’s Muslims, though, have had a contentious relationship in recent years with the Dallas Morning News, mostly because of the paper’s groundbreaking 2001 reporting on the Holy Land Foundation, whose leadership is now under federal terrorism indictment. Since then, local Muslim leaders have engaged in a running dialogue with the News, with the declared aim of improving relations.
It was in that spirit that Sayyid Syeed, then head of the Islamic Society of North America, came in, together with a local delegation, to see the editorial board a few months after I arrived from New York in 2003. Syeed made a laborious presentation about how journalists needed to join with the organization in promoting peace, tolerance, and reconciliation. I knew something about ISNA and asked Syeed why—if his group truly supported peace and suchlike—its board included members directly linked to Islamic extremism and anti-Semitism, including the notorious Wahhabi-trained Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj. The professorial Syeed dropped his polite mask, shook his fist at me, told me that I would one day “repent,” and compared my question with a Nazi inquisition.
Hysterical indignation, I soon learned, is the standard operating procedure for Islamic groups in dealing with the media in this town. Shortly after the Syeed meeting, I published a column in the News decrying the media’s evasion of legitimate questions about Islamic figures and organizations, hoping to shame journalists into posing them. That’s how I became, in the designation of one (now-defunct) Muslim website dedicated to criticizing the News, “the new face of hate.”
I then joined that Islamic site’s e-mail list—which contained several prominent Dallas Muslims—under my own name. Before the site operators discovered my presence and booted me off, I printed out e-mails in which participants discussed a plan to approach business and religious leaders in town and persuade them to lean on the News’s publisher to fire me as a danger to Muslims. “Dreher needs to be ruined,” one e-mailer wrote. “When people here [sic] the name ‘Rod Dreher’ the image of David Duke should appear in their mind’s eye. So, a campaign must be planned and carefully executed to expose this hate-monger and render him a joke.” Naturally, I publicized the plans and made sure that copies of the e-mails got into the hands of the newspaper’s lawyers. That apparently ended that.
I kept making a pest of myself, though, pointing out in columns and editorial-board blog postings inconvenient truths about Dallas’s Muslim community—that, for instance, the leading local imam, who positions himself as an avuncular ecumenicist, had praised on his website the radical Islamists Hasan al-Turabi and Yusuf Qaradawi as the kind of scholars American Muslims should consult. I also helped get into the News’s editorial pages disturbing facts: that the Dallas Central Mosque had participated in a contest that assigned the best-known work of the fanatical Islamic revolutionary Sayyid Qutb to teenage readers, for example, and that some local Muslim leaders had attended a “Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary”—that would be the Ayatollah Khomeini—at a suburban mosque.
This December, another delegation of local Muslim leaders trooped into the News to meet with the editorial board, mostly to complain about, well, me, and to clear up misunderstandings that my supposedly biased rantings might have caused among my colleagues. It was a classic performance. The group obfuscated and bullied, seeking to skirt some tough questions—such as whether they wanted sharia imposed as the law of the land—and trying to make the journalists on hand feel guilty for even asking. What the Muslims were counting on: 1) a lack of specific knowledge about Islam and Islamic figures on the audience’s part; and 2) the audience’s ideological sympathy for them as members of a mistrusted minority.
Luckily, we had in the room a News reporter recently reassigned from our London bureau. He speaks Arabic and had covered the London subway bombings. When the Muslim group tried to claim that Sayyid Qutb was a fringe figure, my newsroom colleague said no, he’s not, and one can easily find his work in Islamic bookshops in England, where it has contributed to the radicalization of British Muslim youth. So it wasn’t just that right-wing Dreher guy from New York—traumatized by 9/11, alas for him—asking these questions. It’s amazing how undone these Muslim leaders become when informed journalists, refusing to be intimidated into embarrassed silence, confront them with the facts.
Later, after I blogged about the meeting, the group’s leader fired off an e-mail to me and my supervisors accusing me of single-handedly burning every bridge built between the Dallas Muslim community and the newspaper. I’d hate for that to be true. But far worse for those bridges to remain standing if built on the dangerous notion that the news media should always publish happy-clappy news about local Muslims and shun any healthy suspicion about things such as Khomeini tributes, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hate literature showing up in mosque libraries (as happened here), and the like.
CURSED ARE THE PICTURE MAKERS!
Volume 3, Book 34, Number 299:
Narrated 'Aun bin Abu Juhaifa:
My father bought a slave who practiced the profession of cupping. (My father broke the slave's instruments of cupping). I asked my father why he had done so. He replied, "The Prophet forbade the acceptance of the price of a dog or blood, and also forbade the profession of tattooing, getting tattooed and receiving or giving Riba, (usury), and cursed the picture-makers."
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