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A Case of Wrongful Attribution
By Alex Temple
May 24, 2006

Sent to MSNBC in response to the article:
Abuse plagues Muslim women in Germany

I question whether the problematic practices discussed in your article should be attributed to Islam as a religion.

They are unique to the particular culture of the immigrants in question.

In almost all cases you refer to Turkish immigrants (except the one about the Persian) and more particularly to those from South Turkey.

Instead of maintaining the scope of your treatment to the appropriate domain, which in this case is Turkish immigrants from the more traditional and poor southern part of Turkey, you confuse the reader by focusing on the subjects’ religion, even though it is quite clear to an educated reader that the behavior illustrated by the immigrants has little to do with religion but rather with their own cultural traditions (many of which are pre-Islamic or extra-Islamic).

Those who take the time to study Islam itself know that it strictly forbids forced marriages, drinking alcohol, beating of spouses, lying, etc. Your article discusses all of these behaviors and then labels their practitioners as Muslim and/or Islamic. They may very well be Muslim, but your article misleads the reader into believing that the religion is the root cause of this behavior and not their specific cultural Turkish or Persian traditions.

These are two very separate and distinct things. As a journalist at MSNBC you have a great responsibility in presenting accurate information to a large and impressionable audience. Please be more astute in averting sweeping generalizations.


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