Wednesday, 18 February 2015

STWW: The "News"

Last week, three University of North Carolina students were murdered in their condo: Deah Barakat (23), Yusor Abu Salha (21) and Razan Abu Salha (19). Deah and Yusor were newly weds and dental students, only having been married six weeks prior. They often ran workshops that provided food and dental supplies to the homeless in Durham. Deah was raising money to visit Turkey and provide dental care to the Syrian Refugees - since his death, his online fundraiser has received over $400 000 in donations. These three, innocent people were shot in their condo a little after 5 pm on Tuesday, February 10th. 

When I heard about the shooting, so many emotions ran through me. I thought that it must have been a hate crime, how could it not? Three young Muslims, including two hijabis, shot execution-style in their own home. Then, why did I read both the American and Canadian versions of the Huffington Post and not have seen this story? Why did I only hear about it when I logged onto Twitter and saw my feed chock-full of shocked, horrified and enraged tweets?

Once I got over the initial shock, I was filled with hurt and anger. Hurt that when a "Muslim" gunman killed an RCMP officer in Ottawa, it was front page news for days. Hurt that when 12 journalists were cruelly massacred in Paris, there were marches of solidarity for the victims. Hurt that no one was Deah, Yusor or Razan but the world was Charlie.

Why is it that "Muslims" (and I use this term lightly because I don't consider people who kill innocent people to be part of the Islam I know) are only on the news when they're committing heinous attacks? Why isn't the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka on the news? Why wasn't this murder of three innocent souls, only 23, 21 and 19 years old, breaking news? They had only been reported on hours after their murders. I read the news multiple times a day and I hadn't seen a story on this till over 12 hours later.

I don't think any killing is more or less horrific than another. I don't think this story deserves more precedence than Charlie Hebdo, than the murders of Nathan Cirillo or Michael Brown, than the victims of ISIS. But I would think that word of a shooting would bring some attention, especially since these people were targeted for their religion. The media is still reporting this attack to be the result of a dispute over a parking space, not a hate crime - but who kills three young people over just a parking spot? Attacks by "Muslims" are so quick to be labelled as acts of terrorism and the religion is to blame while attacks by people belonging to any other religion (or none at all) are thought of as attacks by lone wolves, outliers, mentally ill individuals. Crimes in the name of religions and hate crimes are constantly highlighted in the media, why wasn't this? Don't all lives matter?

This STWW is to remind us all to be a little media savvy. This story hits close to home as I am a Muslim but it reminds me to check multiple news sources. Some of my favourites are Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Vice, RT and Haaretz. Try to look for news sources that tend to report facts without clouding the meaning behind grammar and vocabulary (ex. using the word "died" rather than "killed" can lead to the assumption that the victim died of natural causes, rather than be a victim of murder), or present both sides of a story though articles and opinion pieces. It's important to be smart when it comes to the media to gain as much knowledge as you can, to know that the wool isn't being pulled over your eyes.

This story, like many others, make me wonder what is it that the "News" isn't reporting? What else is going on in the world that is being covered up or distorted by the media? What are we not being told?

What are your favourite news sources? Is there a story that affected you and that you feel hasn't gotten enough coverage? Post it here, I'd love to learn and read more! 

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