The media’s hand in masking identities

BY s r ramanujam| IN Media Practice | 24/07/2005
How do we then identify those who adopt violence as their religion for perceived injustice to religion? Simply call them "Asians"!

Who are these Asians? Asia is not a country, but the largest continent with a number of countries each having its own culture and identity. Identifying the terrorists as "Asians" is a new phenomenon in the media especially after the second attack of terror in the London tube on Thursday. This is misleading to say the least. Who does not know the identity of the country that has been giving shelter to Al Qaeda cadre and producing suicide bombers for deployment in the troubled regions of the world? Unless we identify the country and the reasons for the "evil ideology" of those operating from such places, how are we going to fight terrorism? By closing our eyes to the existence of training camps in Pakistan and the way the country is being Talibanised?

Pervez Musharraf has protested against the linking of Pakistan to what is happening in London though it is an established fact that three of the suicide bombers involved in 7/7 blasts had visited Pakistan and were of Pakistani parentage. Just because Pakistan continues to be one of the frontline states in the war against terrorism in the jaundiced eyes of Bush and Blair, they would like to look the other way when more and more evidence of Pak-linked terror stares at them. So, they want a camouflage. The Western media, understandably, has no hassles in falling in line. But why should Indian media be shameless to borrow the same expression. When we say "Asians" are we referring to Indians, Sri Lankans, Nepalis, Thais, Fillipinos, Malaysians or Pakistanis etc? Even China and Japan are part of Asia! As acknowledged by the Prime Minister, India despite having 15 crore Muslims has not been responsible in pushing even one Muslim citizen into the arms of Osama or his cohorts. Why then this protective mask for jihadi terrorists or to put it bluntly for Pakistanis? Is it not unfair to bring all the Asians under one "terrorist umbrella"?

The British media also reported that a suspected suicide bomber was shot dead by the Police as he was getting into a train and our desi channels reported the same without the slightest doubt as to how a suicide bomber can be shot without causing a major blast. This is something similar to our Indian police shooting a person to kill and then calling him an extremist or Maoist. The fact was the so-called suicide bomber was an unarmed person and it was only on suspicion that he was pinned down to the floor and shot thrice at close range. Though the images that were shown on the small screen identified the religion of the bombers, the official version was "We don’t want to link the recent violence to any community except to criminals". Why then brand those "criminals" as Asians. What a way to escape from the realities. The reality is that it is a violence of vengeance for what the US in active collaboration with the UK has done in Iraq and Afghanistan and the innocent commuters of London are the victims. And, the poor "Asians" have come handy for the world’s super cops to wash their bloodied hands even as their "ally" has been talking of "enlightened moderation".

Also, our media is yet to get out of the colonial mindset. If we compare the alacrity with which they reported London blasts by rushing their ace reporters to London with how they covered the serial car bomb blasts in a Red Sea resort in Egypt killing more than 72 people on Saturday morning, the bias is blatant. Even now, we are obsessed with what happens in the Western capitals than what happens in Asia or Africa. This is not to crib about the coverage London blasts got, but the regret is the media is not sensitized to what happens in the rest of the world. A majority of the victims in Egypt blasts are Egyptians. We don’t wish it, but if the majority of the victims were to be Americans or British, the reaction of the global media, including ours, would have been entirely different. While the BBC and CNN treated the Saturday tragedy as the lead story without any special coverage, for Indian channels like NDTV and Aaj Tak, it was the fifth or sixth story in their news bulletins. NDTV dismissed it as a less-than-a-minute story while it was so excited about Dawood Ibrahim’s daughter’s wedding reception at Dubai with a number of still pix of Dawood as if he were a great hero to be adored. Rane’s mere visit to Maharashtra Assembly was so great an event that it preceded the Egypt blasts. Other Hindi channels were no different.



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