Journalist. Media development professional

While young Muslims deliver flowers, the US media fails twice

While the US media was having a field day with a non-story about a fringe pastor who wanted to burn the Quran, and while Islamophobia and anti-Muslim incidents were skyrocketing including urinating in a mosque and attacking a Muslim cab driver, young Muslims in a small city in the Middle East delivered flowers to a church. This was a “gesture of peace and coexistence,” the group of young Jordanian Muslims who delivered the flowers said.

Photo credit: Thameen Kheetan - The Jordan Times

“Shall we burn a copy of the Bible as a response to that? No, this is not what should be done,” Zeid Oweidi who was among a group of ten Jordanians told reporters at the Greek Orthodox Church in Amman last week. His comments were made against the backdrop of threats by Terry Jones, the pastor of a Florida church who planned to burn copies of the Quran on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

While extremists in places like Afghanistan demonstrated violently over the planned burning of the Quran, young Jordanians last week simply walked to a nearby church following the evening prayers and delivered flowers.

Following this gesture, I received an Email from someone belonging to the Christian community in Jordan urging fellow Christians to reciprocate by delivering flowers to Muslims after Friday prayers. I guess in this case instead of violence begetting violence, goodwill begets yet even more goodwill.

Sadly, for the US media this was a non-story. Who cared about a small, stable country like Jordan? Who cared about a handful of young Muslims delivering flowers when there were others demonstrating violently? Which one would get readers’ attention, violence or flowers? Sadly, the US media chose violence. Who can compete with death and blood? The sexier always wins.

Covering this story and bringing it to the world’s attention is crucial these days. While the average American news consumer is currently being inundated with images of extremist Muslims, a small story like this one should have deserved at least a fraction of the coverage that the Florida priest fiasco received. I understand that this is not a national story and it didn’t happen on US soil but in this interconnected media sphere the location of the story doesn’t make a difference anymore. We have already experienced that. An angry mob in Beirut attacked a Western embassy in reaction to cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper, while demonstrators in Pakistan marched the streets in reaction to an off-beat announcement by a priest in small American city. Nowadays, every story is a global story.

The disappointing fact is that the US media failed twice in this case: first in blowing the story of the Florida priest out of proportion by giving this isolated, planned act (which never happened) more than its share of coverage, and bringing it to the attention of the global audience. The second was in ignoring acts of Muslim goodwill that would have clearly showed that while some Muslims might burn flags and effigies, there are others, like this group of young Jordanians, who would simply deliver flowers.

6 Comments

  1. September 20, 2010    

    Spread this love around. Great story.

  2. Fernando1958's Gravatar Fernando1958
    September 20, 2010    

    the media might not care but I care, and that makes me think that the media has its own cloudy goals. They choose to show only the bad things coming from the Middle East. Anything good is as if it didn’t exist.
    I have nothing against the Jews but if they control the media (they fired Octavia Nasr in CNN for saying something good about a person) that explains everything. Israel needs the West thinking that the Middle East has nothing to offer.

  3. Ken Samac's Gravatar Ken Samac
    September 20, 2010    

    I know you were pointing out what journalists are/are not covering in the news. And, it was a kind gesture by the Jordanian group to bring flowers to a Christian church. However, Amman has 2 million people and 10 brought flowers. My Marian Catholic friends living in Miami Florida also took flowers to a mosque – didn’t make the news. My point is: the overtone of your article was that Muslims of Jordan brought flowers to Christians; that was your topic sentence. 10 out of two million people, although a kind gesture, the same happened in the US. So, the journalistic comparative does not wash. Finally, I did recommend your article on Twitter because it did point out kindness of 10 Jordanians and the inept journalism of the US. By the way, you are using an incorrect designation; he is not a Priest, he is a Pastor.

  4. Mir Sola's Gravatar Mir Sola
    September 21, 2010    

    I don’t think the media is to blame for hyping the nutty pastor. The United Nations, the Vatican, the US government and half the western world went ballistic at the plan to burn a Qur’an. Fear of offending Islam is global obsession. Now, THAT’S a valid media story. If the Imam of a small mosque in the suburbs of Karachi announced plans to burn a bible (or a church for that matter) who would care?

  5. Ziva's Gravatar Ziva
    September 21, 2010    

    As a Jew trying to learn more about the Muslim point of view, comments like that one above about Jews controlling the media don’t help anyone. It’s a lie and if people continue the lies about Jews how can they expect lies not to be told about them?

  6. angry jew's Gravatar angry jew
    September 28, 2010    

    Dhimmi. That’s right. I called you a dhimmi. You get pricked in the heart with a fine needle with one story of an insignificant gesture and your heart gushes out all of it’s pent up anxiety. The “Jewish-owned” media got it half right, they should have covered the quran burning just as much. How many synagogues are in Jordan? or any other arab country for that matter. And don’t tell me about Iran’s jewish population. Horse-pocky. Just because 10 muslims were smart enough to court the favor of the other religion who owe their entire existence to judaism, doesn’t mean it was a gesture of peace. It’s just another case of: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Grow up and pull the daisy out of your bum. Oh, and chag sameach…

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