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ICC Note:

David Adams writes an excellent piece for the Irish Times on the double standards of western media who have drawn international attention to an insignificant pastor in Gainesville, Florida who burns the Quran, while practically ignoring ongoing reports of Christians being imprisoned and murdered in Muslim countries.

By David Adams

4/7/2011 Afghanistan (Irish Times) – In the wake of last week’s killings of seven United Nations staff by an Afghan crowd, the key question is not whether Pastor Terry Jones should have burned the Koran, but why this clown ever came to the attention of anyone beyond his 50-strong congregation in Gainesville, Florida.

He first surfaced on the internet last year (threatening to burn copies of the Koran on September 11th) but it was the mainstream western media that gifted him the kind of profile he could only ever have dreamed about. Crucially, in deciding that his threat merited extended global coverage the media afforded it undue significance.

Perhaps they wanted to shine a light on an example of religious intolerance – which would be fair enough if there weren’t far more extreme and common examples around the world that they ignore. Jones is undoubtedly a bigot (book burning always says more about the burner than the book) but he broke no laws.

Whereas, one presumes, burning Christians, destroying their homes and churches and attacking congregations is illegal in even the most devout of Muslim countries. Yet compare the coverage given to Jones’s pathetic act to that accorded to the murders of at least 20 Christians (12 of whom, including a family of eight, were burned to death) and the destruction of numerous churches and homes in Pakistan since 2009.

For years now, there has been a sustained anti-Christian onslaught in the Muslim world, the horrific details of which puts Jones’s insult in the shade, but its existence is barely even acknowledged in the West.

In January of this year, 21 worshippers were killed in a bomb attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, and another six Copts died in a gun attack on a congregation at a church in Nagaa Hamady. Apparently, Egypt’s Christian minority has been suffering increasing sectarian attacks since the early 1970s. These latest incidents in Egypt were at least mentioned by the western media, but most anti-Christian atrocities by Islamists are not.

In Iraq since the 2003 invasion, an estimated 1,960 Christians have died in attacks and countless churches have been destroyed. In Malaysia, churches are regularly targeted and recently a Catholic school full of pupils came under attack. To varying degrees, Christians are being persecuted in, among other places, Algeria, Indonesia, Somalia, Iran, and in majority Muslim regions of Nigeria and India.

Newsworthiness seems not to be judged by the heinousness of an act or by how frequent or broadly representative it is, but on the probable repercussions it will attract. Thus, the media accords perceived insults to Islam significance commensurate with how they will be judged by Islamist extremists. This comes dangerously close to acquiescence.

His proposed action, though in itself stood to injure no one, was presented as if it were a heinous crime (sections of the media are now demanding that he “repent”). In stark contrast, Islamic intolerance is relatively commonplace, and its victims are many and far-flung. But it is either ignored or semi-excused by references to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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