Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Questions Not Being Asked About the Centanni/Wiig Kidnapping

At The Corner, Cliff May writes about his impressions about what was left out of the interview Greta Van Susteren did with Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig:
1) Has any Palestinian religious or political leader publicly condemned the coerced conversion? Has U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan said a word about it? (Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the U.N. Charter.) How about the leading Muslim organizations in the U.S. and Europe? If not, why not and what does this tell us?

2) Centanni and Wiig continue to emphasize that their experience should not discourage news organizations from covering Gaza, from "telling the story of the Palestinian people...Come and tell the story. It's a wonderful story," Centanni said. Is the mission of Fox's London bureau to tell the "wonderful story" of the British people? Do reporters cover the White House in order to tell the "wonderful story" of George W. Bush? This is patronizing and it's pandering. Journalism and public relations are both respectable professions. But there is a difference between them. When dealing with violent groups in the Middle East do journalists somehow seem to forget this. (BTW: Will Centanni and Wiig return to Gaza? Since I assume they did not sincerely convert, they will not now be practicing Muslims – they will be apostates and therefore targets for capital punishment. No story in that?)

3) Will Palestinian authorities prosecute those responsible for this crime? Or have they already guaranteed the perpetrators amnesty and other benefits? Will the media aggressively attempt to find the answer? Or will the failure of Palestinian authorities to hold criminals accountable not be seen as part of the "wonderful story" that needs to be told?

4) Will journalists investigate whether there is any connection between those who committed this crime and the murder, in 2003, of three Americans who were part of a delegation on its way to interview Palestinian candidates for the Fulbright Scholarship? Those responsible for that crime have never been brought to justice and the issue has been allowed to fade.

5) The fact that Palestinian leaders managed to secure the release of these journalists surely suggests that they could secure the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier as well. Why has that not happened?

6) Is there any chance that there will be some self-examination by the media about the extent to which kidnappings and other threats intimidate journalists and influence their coverage, not least in such places as Gaza and Lebanon? Surely, anyone who fancies himself a media critic should be all over this story.
Andrew Bostom has an article outlining how Centanni's and Wiig's forced conversion was not exceptional, but is part of the long history of forced conversions to Islam.

Meanwhile, some have suggested that Centanni and Wiig have been mum about their Moslem status because it would be an asset for working again in Gaza.

Maybe not.

True, as Moslems they may be saved from being beheaded, but not from being shot:

Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip complained on Tuesday that they were being subjected to a campaign of intimidation and terror by various armed groups and urged the Palestinian Authority to punish those responsible.

Several Palestinian journalists and editors have been killed or beaten over the past few years by unidentified gunmen, especially in the Gaza Strip. Until today, none of the assailants have been caught.

The blind eye the media has shown towards the implications of the kidnapping should not be surprising. There is a thin line between being blind...and being scared.

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