Here is a sentence that should concern everyone who wants factual reportage, accuracy and the building of political programmes and policy initiatives on that basis.
“…the gunman who killed diplomat Andrei Karlov shouted a slogan used by Islamists…”
That sentence appeared in a Washington Post story on extremism in Europe. Click here to read the story by Adam Taylor @mradamtaylor who generally writes sterling stuff but might want to take another look at this particular piece.
The Washington Post story contains exactly the sort of inaccuracy that promotes grave misunderstandings between and about communities.
Here’s what the Post got wrong about what the gunman shouted, Allahu Akbar:
- It’s not a slogan, though it has occasionally been appropriated as a Pan-Arab anthem by officially secular countries, including Gaddafi’s Libya
- It means “God is great”
- It features in the Muslim call to prayer, the azaan
- It also features in the prayers said by 1.2 billion Muslims across the world five times a day
- The azaan is heard by Muslims across the world five times a day
To be fair to the Washington Post, that particular story did note the rising, worrying tide of Islamophobia. “The incoming Trump administration is at odds with many experts when it comes to Islam and extremism,” says the report.
Unfortunately, the WaPo inaccuracy is part of the problem. Imagine someone who doesn’t know anything about Islam hearing an ordinary law-abiding Muslim say “Allahu Akbar”. Imagine, someone who doesn’t know what Allahu Akbar means, hearing it issue from a mosque in a repurposed building somewhere in the US or some part of Europe.
Would they not think that mosque is a nest of Islamist terrorists?