by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 5, Rajab, 1431)
The same right, however, does not extend to those criticizing the crimes perpetrated by the Zionist State. Any criticism of Israel is immediately denounced as anti-semitism
Hardly a day passes by without Muslims being told to grow up and accept western standards of freedom of expression and thought. Some western commentators have gone so far as to claim that they have the “right” to offend — Muslims, that is. Thus, the Danish cartoonist has the right to depict the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the most vile manner; western newspapers have the right to publish these cartoons and Muslims must learn to live with the West’s freedom of speech. It is a cherished right of journalists and people in the west, we are told. So not only denouncing but also offending Muslims is a right in the west.
The same right, however, does not extend to those criticizing the crimes perpetrated by the Zionist State. Any criticism of Israel is immediately denounced as anti-semitism. In June, Helen Thomas, the 89-year old veteran journalist, the bane of 10 US presidents and their press secretaries, was fired from her job because she made an off-the-cuff remark to a rabbi telling him: “the Jews must get the hell out of Palestine.” True, Ms. Thomas’s choice of words was unfortunate; not all Jews are Zionists but rabbi David Nesenoff’s underhanded method of recording her comment and uploading it to his website, rabbilive.com, was equally contemptible. The Zionists and their rightwing allies went ballistic. Ms. Thomas had to go. She was fired from her job after an illustrious 62-year career in journalism.
So, we have established two rules of western journalism: it is open season on Muslims and Islam, and criticism of Israel is forbidden.
In July, we learned another rule: you cannot praise a Muslim leader/scholar or you will lose your job. Following the death of Shaykh Seyyed Fadhlallah in Lebanon on July 4, Octavia Nasr, senior editor of CNN’s Middle East affairs, wrote on her twitter: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” Again, the Zionists and their allies went ballistic. They inundated CNN with complaints.
Did CNN stand up for freedom of expression that it and so many others had proclaimed so loudly over the offensive Danish cartoons? Nasr, a Lebanese Christian, had to go. The dirty job of firing her was assigned to one Parisa Khosravi, Senior Vice President of CNN International Newsgathering. Of Iranian origin, Khosravi was recruited precisely because she would carry out the orders given to her. She would not dare fire a reporter spouting venom against Islam, Muslims or the Islamic Republic. In an internal memo, Khosravi wrote: “I had a conversation with Octavia this morning and I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company” after 20 years of service. So there!
An almost identical salvo of missiles was fired at Frances Guy, Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, for writing about Shaykh Fadhlallah on her blog: “When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person.” Immediately, the internet went viral and an Inquisition was launched against her with the Israeli Foreign Ministry leading the diplomatic charge with its spokesman saying, it would be “interesting” to know what the British Foreign Office thinks of her remarks. Ambassador Guy was forced to remove the comments from her blog but the veteran British journalist Robert Fisk was so irked by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s comment that he wrote in his own column: “Personally, I would be far more ‘interested’ in what the Israeli Foreign Ministry knows of the British passports its government forged in order to murder a man in Dubai not many months ago” (The Independent, July 10, 2010).
So now we have the third commandment of the West’s “free” media: though shalt not praise a Muslim leader, ever.
We are forced to ask: where are all those chest thumping “defenders of the freedom of the press” who told the two billion Muslims not so long ago to grow up and appreciate the West’s cherished freedom of expression?