The Middle East is a vital location for many countries, due to it’s abundance of a certain necessity, yet the world naturally tries to avoid the many conflicts that take place there. Unfortunately, when the U.S. gets involved, it becomes the world’s business. The recent backlash against an anti-Islamic video produced in America has garnered a great deal of journalistic criticism from around the world. It all covers the same topic, but the quality of substance, side of opinion, and other aspects differ slightly by location in the world.
I first heard news of the backlash from my go-to world news source, Al-Jazeera. Due to the fact that the organization keeps their reporting current, the news of the embassy attacks has already been pushed off the front page, yet was documented hourly as breaking news on Friday. Due to Al-Jazeera’s support for the nonviolent majority in the Middle East, many articles spend time clarifying that the protests do not represent Libya nor the Middle East’s overall opinion of the West, as terrorism can’t be easily controlled; all of the articles support the arrest of those responsible for the attacks. One article even mentions a government-sponsored program for citizens to turn in weapons acquired during the Arab Spring protests to help prevent further violence. Middle Eastern news also urges for American citizens in the area to leave as soon as possible, due to a “critical level of threat” from terrorist groups.
Across the Atlantic, our response to the attacks has been overwhelming. On the front page of CNN, there’s an entire section dedicated to “Anti-American Protests”. Many of the articles warn of immediate danger that the situation has produced. One writes that deploying Marines in some countries will “stoke” violence, providing opportunities for terrorism to “open the doors of hell”. According to CNN, the whole situation represents a wake up call to the ever-present hatred of America in the Middle East. An article quoted one protest group chanting, “Obama, there are a million Osamas!” Though there are articles warning of violence, there also seem to be a lots of pictures (there were over 20 action shots for one article!?). American news has also shocked me with the colossal amount of feature story-type articles documenting specific events with gripping headlines like, “An Ambassador’s Last Moments” or “Bloody Handprints on Embassy Wall”.
From a European perspective, this issue just isn’t making it’s way into the news as prevalently as in other parts of the world. Judging from an analysis of BBC’s coverage, the biggest story right now appears to be the public reaction to topless Kate Middleton photos. The only articles covering the “Embassy Issue” are vague with reporting and specifics. Most pieces also take an outsider approach, looking at the topic from a more general standpoint. Many talk of America’s urging of citizens to withdraw from the area due to the inability of locals to suppress violence. The outsider/impartial approach is apparent when I noticed that the death of Ambassador Stevens was lightly mentioned, later in an article, rather than as a main device. I was surprised to read that BBC got an interview with Egypt P.M. Qandil who encouraged that the “U.S. must stop people from insulting Islam.” BBC also brought up an interesting perspective: no crime was committed in the creation of the supposed “Anti-Islam” video, due to the first amendment. Although the majority of the articles/pieces are unbiased, there’s definitely an overlying idea that peace should be made between the U.S. and the Islamic’s backlash rather than create violence.
A few referenced news articles: