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A Call for Consistency
By Alex Temple
June 8, 2006

In regards to the CNN article
Militants attack Nigeria oil field

Dear editor:

I’d like to commend CNN on this article. It focuses on the socio-economic reasons behind the militant behavior and struggle. I found your treatment to be impartial; you clearly avoided extravagant or sensationalist terms in describing the Ijaw tribal militants (who, although not mentioned in the article, are Christian / Animist).

However, one must ask, why is this professional journalistic impartiality rarely if ever applied to muslim or “Radical Islamic” militants in other CNN articles (see the current articles on Mogadishu).

Whenever there is an article covering “radical Islamicists”, the content tends to focus on what the militants demand (usually some sort of ‘radical’ Shariah-based law) and their religion (Muslim or Islamic). In these same articles, there is little analysis of the driving socio-economic conditions that drive these militants’ actions.

It seems that CNN's coverage of militant behavior is inconsistent: When the militants claim to be muslim or Islamic, CNN focuses on religion as the driving factor; however when the militants are not muslim (such as the Christian Ijaws) CNN doesn’t bring up the subject of religion. Why is the much needed socio-economic analysis off limits when discussing the problem of ‘muslim’ militants?

CNN should know what 95% of Muslims already do: it is not ‘radical Islam’ that drives a militant’s passion (though they wear religion on their sleeves for credibility); rather it is their ignorant, stagnant, poor, or crime-ridden societies.

Best regards,
Alex Temple

Copyright © 2006 CAIR-Chicago