20 groups call on media to avoid stereotyping, division
By Aatif Ali Bokhari
TMO Managing Editor
Twenty civil rights and faith groups, including the NAACP, Amnesty International USA and Asian Americans Advancing Justice jointly signed an open letter to the media asking reporters to seriously consider the role they play in creating stereotypes, keep their coverage factual, and avoid divisive rhetoric.
The letter said “the problematic coverage has been pervasive: one Fox News host and program after another has falsely suggested that Muslim leaders and organizations have not taken a stand against the violence in Paris. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch tweeted, ‘Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.’
“Radio hosts followed suit, claiming that similar terror attacks wouldn’t occur if ‘most Muslims were against what was happening’. Real Time host Bill Maher alleged that ‘hundreds of millions’ of Muslims support the massacre and even a CNN anchor asked his guest, a Muslim human rights lawyer, whether or not he supports ISIS.”
The letter went on to state that Muslims have in fact been continuously condemning terrorism. Muslims have not been embraced for their important role but rather have been mistreated in the press. Elected officials have often used the press as a means to target Muslims rather than bridge-building.
“Discriminatory targeting of American Muslims has been widespread throughout the country, and it has failed to keep our communities safe. Blanket surveillance based on ethnicity, race or religion is ineffective, diverts resources and erodes trust in law enforcement that the public should have.
“An Associated Press investigation into the activities of the New York Police Department’s Demographics Unit dedicated to wholesale spying on American Muslims in the city and northeast revealed that it failed to help produce a single lead or terrorism case, instead increasing distrust between the police and the communities they serve.”
The list of organizations signing the letter included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Center for Outreach, the American Muslim Advisory Council, Amnesty International USA, the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for New Community, Color of Change, Muslim Advocates, Michigan Muslim Community Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, NAACP, the National Network for Arab American Communities, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, South Asian Americans Leading Together, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Interfaith Center of New York, and UNITED SIKHS.