Be Wary of The Headlines

Jun 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Media Watch


“Muslim beauty stoned to death’’ was a headline, I came across  on a news website.

The screaming headline is a perfect example of yellow journalism gone wild. Unfortunately these dirty tactics of marketing news have become a norm. The news was picked up from British and Ukrainian newspapers which in summary said,

“Aspiring Miss Ukraine stoned to death under Shariah Law by Crimean Radical Islamist. The man was told to be a radicalised Wahabi extremist and the lady was reportedly a Muslim who was given this punishment by him as it is not allowed for women to take part in a beauty contest in Islam”

Sensational and ‘Masalay-dar’ as it sounds, our media didn’t bother to carry out any further research before propagating this piece, as it perfectly fulfils the purpose and agenda they are working on.

A few hours later the headline was amended to ‘’Teenage beauty ‘’ instead of ‘’Muslim beauty’’ and an addendum was added to the article as the original story was absolutely different to what was published. An elementary online research shows:

  1. There are conflicting reports and according to Crimean Police, the girl was not a Muslim
  2. The boy who killed her strangled her and then struck a blunt object on her head which according to the police was her cause of death
  3. The boy was her admirer and was suffering from serious mental health disorder
  4. The only relation of the killer with Islam was that his parents were non-practising Muslims who had never attended a Mosque.

According to Ukrainian Interior Minister, “There was no underlying religious, national or inter-ethical motives behind the murder.”

Big round of applause to Pakistani media which never misses an opportunity to defame Islam, Muslims or Shariah Laws by strictly following the rules of the game. This is in line with the negative stereotyping of Muslims, that western media is bent upon promoting. A threat, a bomb, a killing- a faint link to anyone having a Muslim sounding name, there you go! You have a perfect combination, so publish, propagate and make money.

How many of us know about a police officer killed in an explosion caused by a bomb planted under his car in Northern Ireland (the 2nd of April 2011), or Irish militants warning of a bomb blast in central London just a day before Queen Elizabeth’s first state visit to Ireland (16th May 2011) or the discovery of a bomb in town of Maynooth ,15 minutes away from Dublin and a second suspicious device found at a Dublin tram station (the 17th of May 2011). Of course, it doesn’t carry any material for any media hype as no Muslims were found attached to it.

How many of us remember Marwah Al-Sherbini, a 32 year old Egyptian girl who was called a ‘Muslim bitch and a terrorist whore’ and was killed by a racist in a German court. She was three months pregnant and was stabbed 18 times with a verdict by her killer, ‘you don’t have a right to live’ (July 2009). Has anyone seen our media talking about the plight of Muslims all over the world because of being Muslims’? Of course not! Because those 50 million dollars pledged by President Obama are not to serve that cause.

How many of us saw our media getting furious about Niqab ban in France. Did you see any feminist or human rights NGOs voicing this issue? Did you see any blog or article or even a news showing their fury or concern on Sharon Horgan’s comments on BBC’s ‘Have I got news for you?’ when she calls Makkah as Mecca (hub) of suicide bombers just a few days ago.

I was watching an interview with Yuri Bezmenov on YouTube , a trained KGB agent, recorded in 1985.

He tells “In recent times, 15% of the time, money and manpower is spent on espionage, and 85% is spent on the great brainwashing process called the ideological subversion or psychological warfare. It changes the perception of reality so much so that despite the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions.”

In a nutshell, he lays out four steps to transform the thinking and behaviour of an entire population, namely:

  1. Demoralisation (which takes 10-15 years to brainwash one generation)
  2. Destabilisation (over 2-5 years) where economy, foreign relations and defence systems are rattled.
  3. Crisis
  4. Normalisation (a cynical term which lasts indefinitely and includes violent changes of power and structure and economy)

Demoralization is a task so religiously being fulfilled by our media, print as well as electronic. And you can be a part of it by qualifying to minimum criterion of joining the team which serves the purpose of ‘ideological subversion’. Believe! Pen is mightier than sword but only if your ink is made visible to public and that happens if you fulfil their criteria. So if you have a story (no matter how fabricated), or an opinion (no matter how useless) or you have enough vocabulary to bash the bearded, ridicule the word of God and blame the Shariah Laws, or simply have an obscene picture for an explicit topic like porn, sex, contraception, you are a perfect candidate to become a part of some ‘Sexpress Tycoons’.If you have a video showing a woman is being whiplashed by bearded men and you can stretch a story or add mirch masala to it, you have everything that takes to become a potential blogger or a writer.

I adore my prime inspiration, Malcolm X’s quote where he says,

The press is so powerful in its image-making role that it can make a criminal look like a victim and make the victim look like a criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppression”

Let’s keep our eyes open to the dirty tricks of the people who are out to sell their news (and Eiman) for a few bags of dollars and helping the confusion grow every day.

Dr. Aisha Waheed

About the author

Dr. Aisha Waheed is a medical doctor, MA History from QMUL UK - a traveller, photographer and a dreamer who longs for a kind and tolerant world. She loves Urdu poetry.

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59 comments
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  1. This is a clear example of the Islamo-phobic syndrome that has plagued the Media in Pakistan, after all this is what they are paid for. Btw the term “Sexpress Tycoon” fits right. Great Work Aisha, very well written

  2. Great work Aisha
    It’s sad many few ppl will get to read this :(, as it isn’t that sensational to the coke addicts out there (coke studio).
    But I am sharing this for sure.

  3. Awesome piece Mash’Allah! Keep it up sister.

  4. This is the kind of blogging we need. Well done..am sharing

  5. Aisha Aijaz, Great Work and dont be sad if very few people will get to read this but you done the job which is your duty and certainly Allah is watching and will reward for sure Ameen.

  6. Interesting article Aisha…you raise some important questions. I agree we must scrutinise how stories are written, (wherever they are written across the globe) who is writing the story, who is funding the nespaper corporations and possible hidden or not so hidden agendas. (I am currently in UK) but trawl the internet for many viewpoints. We must hold our media to account and also any agencies controlling the media and challenge bias. My dear friend and colleague Saleem Shahzad was tortured to death last week in Pakistan after writing a story. Press must be able to write freely and this is one reason why alternative social media and online publishing has really taken off over the last few years to address the anomalies. The Marwa al Sherbini case did get coverage in Europe, I actually wrote a poem in her memory and included this as part of an online article I wrote… We also addressed French veil debate in both mainstream and alternative media… however there are many stories that don’t get fair coverage here of if they do are “slanted” in a particular direction losing objectivity… Opinion pieces are fine… if labelled as such… Also there is a lot of attention paid to conspiracy theories at times, good journalism is based on meticulous research and fact…

  7. That is exactly the problem with ‘For Profit’ media and news reporting organizations. Since the inherent objective of a corporation is to maximize profits, it will do whatever it takes to achieve their objective after allocating a small amount for their so called “corporate social responsibilities”. Therefore in this case the news reporters will choose to report only those news which generate more gross rating points(grps), resulting in more advertising revenues. Anything which will disrupt the “buying mood”, will not make its way to the surface.
    Great Piece. Wonderful effort Aisha.

  8. May Allah give u Jaze Khair and we must recognize the conspiracy theory of the world and media.

  9. Yes, our media is planting and growing confusions instead of awareness among us. Yuri’s said steps are being followed, and I think a big number of viewers want to see and hear whatever bizarre and terrifying is out there through the media (no matter its true or not). And Media is following a simple rule, “jo bikta hai wo acha hai”.

  10. i appreciate the need of this and i must really appreciate your objectivity of bringing this in view,i’ll be sharing it definitely(InshaALLAH)

  11. Truly,expressed and written article… I am certain that you are aware that the Kerry Lugar Bill earmarked 50 million dollars just for buying media influence in Pakistan. Many Pakistani analysts have been given “grants” to study in the US and do “fellowships” in US think-tanks including govt. funded institutions like the US -Institute for Peace….And also of the Patriots Act and it’s salient features!

    You see it is a fact most countries around the world monitor foreign media takeovers or alliances to ensure that national security is not compromised by foreign indoctrination. In the US, no foreign national is allowed to own a TV network. …This rule created difficulties for the Australian billionaire TV magnate Rupert Murdoch to start his famous right wing Fox TV Channel in the US. To bypass the rule the billionaire applied for a US citizenship which he got and brought the Fox Channel to the US. Even starting a homegrown channel for broadcast on cable is difficult in the US if it doesn’t conform to the mainstream American values. This can be adjudged from the story of the Muslim TV network called Bridges TV which had to find 10,000 cable customers willing to subscribe to it before such a channel could be aired…

    I for one feel that Pakistan, should also have some laws and regulations which limit and deny such foreign acquisitions/interference in critical areas like oil companies, essential mineral resources and more importantly the media, thereby ensuring Pakistani media is free of foreign interests and solely dedicated to the welfare of the Pakistani nation.

  12. true .. very true

  13. The unfair treatment of western media towards Islam and Muslims is not new to many people. The biased reporting, stereotype stories and hidden hate towards Muslims of the world are facts of western journalism. These champions of the free world who claim that their reporting standards are very high, they are honest and feel responsible to provide correct information to their audiences are in fact, have dual standards of reporting. They intentionally dramatize a situation in order to market their programs and increase their market share at any cost. They are not honest when a news item or a story involves a practicing Muslim or religion of Islam.

  14. Thanks Allah for having blessed with a wonderful wonderful sister Aisha Aijaz whose heart is bleeding for her Nation which is suffering from the brutalities of the enemy’s designed plan of destruction for our mother land.I thank you sis.Allah bless you and save our Nation from our enemies.

  15. Hi there,
    Loved this piece ! … promoting it on my facebook page. cheers 🙂

  16. Amazing write up, and so true. This is something i’ve been telling everyone EVERYONE i meet since the past several years. The stark contrasts between the actual events and how they are framed and put on display to the world is just infuriating.
    Well done, and Bravo for mentioning Sister Marwah (God Bless her) the Shaheed.

    May the liars of this world never sleep.

    Incredible this world is
    The ocean of lies
    Conspiracies that breathe within
    Beliefs that blind your eyes
    People, the well dressed men
    The money makers, the unreachable
    People who predict the future
    Are the ones who invent it.
    Catastrophic events
    Set fire to perception
    Eyes see and believe
    Beliefs divide nations
    With this forged faith
    Conscience put at risk
    But I refuse to believe
    What I see
    And they tag me as a conspiracy theorist.
    My suspicions have led me
    To perceive the very lie
    Disguised as the ultimate truth
    Was the reason I questioned why
    As the truth is but Divine
    The only answer to all odds
    & my suspicions paved a way for me
    & brought me closer to God.
    Be wary of the rising events
    As each one of them is deceiving
    Be wary of what you believe in
    As seeing is no longer believing.

    – aAs.

  17. cant say anything that ppl above me havent written! keep it up lady.. we need to speak up .. its now or never.. ur BIT for change would help others to put their bits in the right place! ALLAH bless ur efforts!

  18. great piece of writing
    yes journalism is all about the ‘mirch n masala’, but is it just for selling? Yes, money making is one of the key objectives, however, defaming Islam, creating confusions about it in the minds of both muslims and non muslims is the main aim. As you quoted Malcolm X, “the press is so powerful….” I’d like to add that the press has been given the power to do this by the SYSTEM it is working
    under. Now this system could be a dictatorship or the so called liberal democracy (which it is not), the system will always work for the cause of the rulers, the elite. Change it for a better, rather the best, system, the system that works to establish Allah’s deen (way of life) on this earth and you will have a media that propogates truth!

  19. May you stay blessed forever my sister! Bravo for being the person to feel so strongly enough to bring it to limelight what we, as a nation, even upon feeling the same way dont have either the time, words or to be precise….Himmat (courage) to speak out loud and clear.
    Allah swt has given you this opportunity to use the same medium to spread out your opinion as a Muslimah, a Pakistani and a female to what the societies are constantly being hypnotized. We are numb…so numb that even though we can see what disaster is being concurred upon us, still we can not speak up, let aside take any action.
    The political leaders are already sold out commodities which are worthless not only to the nation but to those who they have sold their souls and nation to! How can they see what they have so ferociously inculcated what the western masters have fed to their brains. Oh people of my country its time to shake ourselves out of this slumber of negligence and numbness and take concrete steps for the salvation of us as Muslims and alongwith it we have to safeguard our homeleand which indeed is a gift of Allah swt. Its a wake up call people!!!!

  20. Wonderful piece of writing. Need of the hour. An eye opener. Good work Aisha.
    I wish somebody could shut this ‘Jew News’ off…along with some other channels. These sold out puppets are propagating what their western masters want them to.

  21. Very well written… ALLAH BLESS YOU.

  22. Master piece! This couldn’t be written more beautifully.

  23. well said ayesha.JAZAKALLAH KHEIRAN

  24. realy good work.. also i would like to add that
    I strongly condemn extrajudicial killing in any part of the country but at the same time more strongly condemn the unjustified propaganda by media and some politicians(who r not competent rather emotional) against our state institutions(who also need to correct their house)….
    I personaly think this video should have been used as evidence in court rather than as propaganda on tv channels…

  25. O Allah! root out the yellow journalism from my mother land.
    O Allah! make our media ppl to know their creator’s command
    “Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know.” [surah NUR ayat 19].

    O Allah! accept my DUA as we are helpless so hold our hand and make us to stand up to be careful in upcoming days. ameen

  26. so true!!

  27. Brilliant piece, hats off to you. That description of media and arm chair bloggers was SUPER AWESOME!

  28. well done .Masha Allah. may Allah reward you.

  29. actually this article opened my new dimension of thinking………thnxx ma,am….

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  31. […] claim to be unbiased and independent on facts and reporting. However, they are often subjected to ruthless criticism by the rightist journalists and bloggers for misleading the facts and total biased reporting of […]

  32. Honestly speaking, I don’t bother even visiting etribune on the web or switch to their biased channel. What more can you expect from them? Masala and liberal extremism. Misguiding our youth for cheap publicity.

    Very well researched write-up. Thank you. Sharing it on my twitter and fb 🙂

  33. Hi Aisha,

    loved the article…. good to c that atleast some one is using brains in the right direction and actually opening everyone’s eyes!!! keep it up all the best!!!

  34. Exactly my sentiments, great work Aisha!

  35. How many people know about peace,equality, and love? How many of you wants other to think to fight with each other? It is not WWE World. WWE is spoiling uneducated people who don’t want to go school. Can WWE help the world turn into peace? No!! It can’t. It is ashamed for all those who don’t want other to live. Every human is like a piece of wood. If one wood burn negatively then all the woods will surely burned. If one wood is smiling with other woods. then all the woods are equal,love and peace. Let all of you thinks difference. Don’t be BOYCOTT!!!! Always understanding the true meaning of equal,love, peace.
    I agreed this article. I love victims too much. I love the person who do positive wid peace only.

  36. I am involved with some Media professionals and TV channels, I have witnessed how these people Invent Lies and then propagate them. They have 1 only 1 mission, i.e. How to generate maximum money from all the news (or invented news).
    May ALLAH (SWT) guide them the right path. Ameen!

  37. excellent work

  38. Media can make the day look night and vice versa. If only we would follow the guidance given to us in surah hujrat where Allah orders the Muslims to not to spread any rumour unless it is confirmed but rather report it to the men of authority and knowledge…..if only…..

  39. A bravo article !!
    Pseudo liberals take pride in bashing mullahs, Islam whereas Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has forbidden the bashing of people who have knowledge of the Deen or practice Deen ! But ofcourse it is in fashion to bash them so bash them freely for no one will stop you but how about bashing those who were eye witness to the shaheeda marwa’s innocent shahdat in German court ? Ooh well ! These Pseudo liberals will never raise voice against such autrocities !

  40. very well written MA… keep it up

  41. What brought me to read your blog was the fact that you are a Muslim woman. That is my bias. Everybody has a bias. What needs to be done in order to create change is stir up curiosity…which you do admirably. I agree with many of your thoughts but not all. I agree with some of the commentators but not all. Actually I disagree vehemently with some of them! But agreeing or disagreeing isn’t really the point here, is it? Free speech is what is important. Let the press write whatever it wants. We don’t have to take it to heart. Of course, brainwashing (invented by the Russians, improved by the Americans and taken over by interest groups) is a dangerous thing. Our minds are constantly bombarded. You would think that the solution would be to close our minds but it isn’t. An open mind is a clear mind.

  42. Masha Allah u r doing great work,,,v at this stage require deep thinking n ppl who have courage to highlight issues.

  43. MASHALLAH, An eye opening piece of work. I’ve also read the news “Islamic beauty stoned to death”
    Your understanding about Islam and the ongoing conspiracies against Islam worth apriciation.
    For how long it will go on?
    More or less 20,000 people are embracing Islam in US alone.The figure also include the most influential personalities i.e. the CNN reporters, the doctors, engineers, Engineers, Yvonne Ridley is most important of them because she’d been the prisoner of so called the most brutal regime in the world (TALIBAN)
    The more propaganda and conspiracies their media plays the more people study Islam in order to find what does the teaching of this religeon involve and it results in more conversion to Islam.
    The increasing number of conversions scares them they carry out scientific researches on Quran in order to find some scientific errors in Quran using which they can stop the number of conversions but every single research testifies that Quran is true word of ALLAH. And the result is the same but with greater magnitude.
    So why it doesn’t result in the same as it does in US and other countries?
    It’s a big question mark. The conspiracies about Islam is not something new. The conspiraciest and propagandist elements have always been there Ever since our beloved prophet (S A W) announced Himself as prophet (S A W) and started preaching Islam.
    What I can understand through my research so far is that we’re blessed that we took birth in Muslim families but we never dared to read Quran for the principle of knowledge. Taking birth in a Muslim family is something blessing of ALLAH. How many of us are Muslim by choice as well? Lack of knowledge will always result the way it’s resulting.
    A knowledgeable person can’t be misguided like an ignorant one.
    I’m firm of the that unless we don’t declare the religeon teachings especially of quran as compulsory the situation will keep on getting worse n worst.
    Our youth is enjoying ghanta package. Our scholars are dividing people in sects. Political division is there. Social division is there . Generation gap is increasing with every passing day.
    Knowledge is power and can’t be achieved without insatiable thirst .
    May ALLAH guide us . Ameen.

  44. nicely written. i would like to comment about the “edited correction note” at the end of referenced article published in tribune (http://tribune.com.pk/story/182841/muslim-teenage-beauty-queen-stoned-to-death-report/)

    “The article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
    Correction, June 5, 2011
    Due to an editorial oversight, the original headline of the article suggested Katya Koren was Muslim. The headline has been corrected to reflect the fact that there are conflicting reports on the story.”

    Now the point is that why didnt they change the headline to some hindu, christian, or budh etc instead of Muslim when they knew the fact that she was not muslim? is this not the biasness, racism against muslims???

  45. now they (tribune) have restricted access to comment on that article

  46. very good effort of exposing that yellow journalism.. keep it up!

  47. Masha Allah Aisha may Allah bless u!

  48. […] means that people are against a set of crimes which are committed in the name of liberating women. Treating woman as an object is the worst form of slavery, because the victims (women) usually don’t even know about it and […]

  49. […] […]

  50. A very good article! However, I fail to understand why we are blaming everything on the WEST. western media, western politics etc…? Of course if someone is an enemy, he or she will never think good for you. It is our fault that we have become so weak…. and we have started killing our own men and have started hating our own muslim race. We have the huge differences even within the umberella of the religion Islam. S.arabia hating Iran, Iran hating S. Arabia, turkey hating syria, and so on….
    Guys, stop blaming western tactics for our own failure. You can not simply live while complaining about how an enemy attacked you…if you are weak… everyone will attack you. So please, this article should be used to wake up and start progressing. It is not the fault of the west or our own govts.. its our own fault (including mine) that we respect those who attack us!

    When the muslims were in power, ALL OF THESE current western powers respected them. Now when the muslims are weak every one plays with them. So please wake up and start improving ourselves instead of just complaining and complaining!.

  51. Dear Shahan,
    You are absolutely right! It’s not about blaming the west only. Our weakness is the first reason why foreign meddling succeeds. You might like reading this to get my viewpoint on this.
    http://www.mybitforchange.org/2011/have-we-got-the-right-ingredients/
    Regards!

  52. excellent . truly said . you hit the nail on the head !

  53. MashAllah, excellent writing, facts and clarity. If you’d like me to translate this article to Spanish please just send me an email.

  54. Mashallah. keep up ur voice aisha. (Alas if only there were more like u.)
    U are not alone…..u have a great lot of supporters. never back down.
    May Allah give u the strength to carry on 🙂
    God bless u. 🙂

  55. i never do commenting on news but this comment is for ur inspiration that we are reading u and u doing a great job then those who appeared on media

  56. […] was the killer of Marwah Al Sherbini scared of? Was this 32-year old, three month pregnant pharmacist, a loving wife and a mother of a two year old, a threat to the world? Oh, mind you she was called a […]

  57. Salam

    I saw your blog and am impressed by your knowledge and affinity to Islam.I want to share some of my questions/apprehensions regarding Islamic rules with you and would like to seek your opinion on them. pls let me know where can i submit my query.
    thanks

  58. […] was the killer of Marwah Al Sherbini scared of? Was this 32-year old, three month pregnant pharmacist, a loving wife and a mother of a two year old, a threat to the world? Oh, mind you she was called a […]

  59. For your information, “Have I Got News For You” is a topical news/comedy show (and very good it is too!) where EVERYONE has to take their lumps, including Muslims too! So implying some racist character to Sharon Horgan’s jibe is absurd in this context, as that’s what happens when you live in a “free” society! On that same show, politicians of every stripe were subject to cutting remarks, public figures are humiliated, and news stories from around the world are criticised in a humorous fashion. In an article talking about misrepresentations in the media, this is especially ironic.

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