Friday, May 04, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 5/4/2012 Media Whitewashing Radical Islamists

From DG:

1) All the Islam that's fit to whitewash

David Kirkpatrick reported in Support From Islamists for Liberal Upends Race in Egypt:
Egypt’s most conservative Islamists endorsed a liberal Islamist for president late Saturday night, upending the political landscape and confounding expectations about the internal dynamics of the Islamist movement.  
The main missionary and political groups of the ultraconservatives, known as Salafis, threw their support behind Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a dissident former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood known for his tolerant and inclusive view of Islamic law. 
The endorsement goes a long way toward making Mr. Aboul Fotouh the front-runner in a campaign that could shape the ultimate outcome of the revolt that ousted the former strongman, Hosni Mubarak.
But no matter how many times Kirkpatrick describes Dr. Aboul Fotouh as "liberal," In How Egypt's Presidential Election Will Change the Middle East and the World, Barry Rubin writes:

By declaring his candidacy, Aboul Fatouh was in fact taking a more radical approach. Later, when the Brotherhood felt more confident after winning almost half the parliamentary seats it became more aggressive.  
Most important of all, Aboul Fatouh is the candidate endorsed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Qatar-based anti-American, antisemitic hardliner. Qaradawi would never endorse anyone who was actually “moderate” much less “liberal.”
In The American Media Gets an Egyptian Presidential Candidate All Wrong, Eric Trager also writes:
Indeed, Abouel Fotouh’s exit from the Muslim Brotherhood hardly implies his moderation, and he has continued to embrace the Brotherhood’s core aim of establishing a sharia-based legal system. In this vein, his presidential platform calls for “the application of sharia law as a comprehensive concept for achieving the fundamental interests of the people,” which include ending poverty, unemployment, corruption, and “deviance.” 
Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Abouel Fotouh embraces an interpretive “maqasid” approach to sharia, which places a rhetorical emphasis on broader aims such as justice and compassion. But also like his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, Abouel Fotouh’s progressive façade frequently slips. In this vein, when military vehicles ran over a Christian-led demonstration outside of Egypt’s state-run media building on October 9, killing 28 people, Abouel Fotouh blamed the Christians for choosing “the wrong place and the wrong time” to demand their rights. He further stated that the massacre advanced the “foreign and Zionist aims of igniting sectarian strife in Egypt.” Abouel Fotouh’s insensitive response to the killing of Christians was hardly out of character. When the U.S. released a report in 2007 criticizing the Mubarak regime’s treatment of Copts, Abouel Fotouh called it “divorced from reality,” and belittled anti-Coptic discrimination by claiming that anti-Muslim discrimination in the West was worse. 
Meanwhile, while reaching out to Salafists on the campaign trail, he qualified his prior support for non-Muslims running for president. “It’s the right of any faction, Islamist or non-Islamist, to nominate, or not nominate [candidates]—it’s up to them,” he said in a recent interview on Salafist satellite television. “But Egypt cannot have a president who does not have an Islamist orientation. The Egyptian people expressed this in the parliamentary elections, and in other elections.”
Yesterday, Kirkpatrick tweeted a link to a moderate sounding paper, Fotouh wrote for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2006. Among the topics covered in the paperwas rights for religious minorities. (.pdf)
It is important to stress that Muslims cannot practice their beliefs except by protecting the non-Muslims among them and preserving their right to difference in religion. In reformist Islam the citizen is considered the foundation of society, regardless of his religion or color. Justice for all people is an Islamic value, as the Quran says “God commands justice.” The foundation on which the treatment of non-Muslims is built is that the individual is for society and society for the individual, with all that this entails in terms of cooperation, mutual understanding, love, and respect. We praise God that our society has never experienced the likes of what happened to Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to an American who was just like her, only white, as the law at that time stipulated that the seats at the front of the bus were for white citizens, not black.
The implication here is that religious minorities in Egypt had more freedom than American blacks did in the 1950's. It's something he said on the Muslim Brotherhood website too,regarding a 2006 report on religious rights in Egypt.
For his part, Dr. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) executive office, rejected the content of this report. 
" America should rather condemn itself first, and then issues reports against others are issued. The status quo is sour in Egypt, but we reject any intervention from the US administration for a blackmail ." 
He said he doesn"t want to comment of such a US report because the truth and neutrality of the US administration in issuing the reports is questioned and because it also exploits such reports to blackmail regimes in various countries. It doesn't aim to apply results of such reports results for the good of nations.

In other words, Copts were not singled out for special persecution or as Eric Trager commented:
In 2007, AbouelFotouh sided w/ Mubarak against US report on rel freedom in #Egypt & belittled anti-Copt discrimination
Kirkpatrick is the reporter covering "The New Islamists" for the New York Times. His portrayal of Aboul Fotouh as a liberal is pretty typical of his coverage of this story.

2) Hungering for a story

New Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times Jodi Rudoren glamorizes Palestinian hunger strikers in Palestinians Go Hungry to Make Their Voices Heard:
The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons.
Read the whole article, nowhere will you get a sense that Israel was justified in issuing the detention orders. Israel National News provides some context:
In late January, the GSS and Israel Police foiled a shooting attack planned by an Israeli Arab in collaboration with an Islamic Jihad terror cell from Tulkarem in northern Samaria.
Last August, Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza were involved in the deadly cross-border ambush of an Israeli civilian bus that left 8 Israelis – 7 of them civilians – dead.
On two separate occasions within the last month, terrorists associated with Islamic Jihad have been arrested attempting to smuggle pipe-bombs, firearms, knives, and ammunition into Israel.
An analysis of Palestinian social networking sites (.pdf) shows an interest in the hunger strikers, but also mass dissatisfaction with Palestinian leadership - both in the West Bank and in Gaza (via Daily Alert).
The "Hunger Games" – hunger strikes by prisoners in administrative detention held without what they see as due process – began in Egypt, and spilled over into the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain, generating much attention and proving quite successful. Governments have shown they do not know how to cope with people willing to risk their lives for what is presented as a struggle for freedom and legal rights. This tactic has been adopted by the Palestinians, and as reflected on social networking sites, the Palestinians perceive that Israel too is hard pressed to cope with the quiet protest, that the expected damage to Israel’s image is substantial, and that therefore Israel ultimately will be forced to change its policy. This can be seen as an "upgrade" of the idea of shuhada, in that individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for the Palestinian cause without mass killing.
The relative calm in the security situation and the events in the Arab world are channeling attention to domestic affairs, both in Gaza under the Hamas government and in the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority. An open and highly critical discussion is underway about the Palestinian leadership, its inability to achieve a solution to the Palestinian problem, and its inability to handle domestic affairs such as the economy, unemployment, corruption, and civil society institutions. Some users have expressed increasingly evident dissatisfaction with both the Gazan and the West Bank leaderships and are seeking ideas on cultivating a new leadership that champions social power, and not necessarily the struggle against Israel.
Part of the dissatisfaction no doubt results from Abbas's Police State:
The repression also extends beyond Palestinian outlets. In July 2009, the Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera from operating in the West Bank after the news channel reported on allegations that Abbas and former Gaza security chief Mohammad Dahlan were accomplices in the death of Yasser Arafat. In January 2011, following its publication of internal documents related to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations known as the "Palestine Papers," Palestinian security officers (among others) attempted to storm Al-Jazeera's Ramallah offices.
These and other incidents have had a chilling effect on reporting. As former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh remarked in 2010, "al-Jazeera and other Arab media outlets... are afraid to publish anything that angers the Palestinian Authority."
Amid such accounts, in April 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a 35-page report titled "No News is Good News: Abuses Against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces." It revealed that Palestinian journalists in the West Bank "have had their equipment confiscated and been arbitrarily detained, barred from traveling abroad, assaulted, and in one case, tortured, by Palestinian security services."
There is another big story going on regarding the increasing stifling of dissent. That's just one story of many that the New York Times is paying no attention to. But if it is something that perpetuates the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians or, lacking context, makes Israel look bad, the New York Times won't miss it.
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