Kristin Jankowski: Santa Clause and Al-Qaida

Posted on September 23, 2012 by

Since I moved to Egypt and witnessed the uprising against the regime in the past year and since I have seen many media reports about these riots, I wonder if journalists and dogs have more in common than you think. With the German coverage of the protests in front of the American embassies,   the difference has become clear to me: Dogs run away when it burns. Journalists come running greedily. Mistakes in reporting appear to be legitimate, informations are turned over and are inflated – especially when it comes to the Arab world. Apparently it is allowed to use racism vocabulary.

Arrogance and ignorance

When flags are burned in front of Western embassies and angry men in beards quote the Quran – then it’s the perfect stuff for Western media. The image feeds prejudices, spreads hatred. As on  September 14th . An article in the “Tagesspiegel” was about the protests at the American embassy in Cairo. “It seemed as if there had never been the Arab Spring,” concluded the author.

I wondered how much arrogance and ignorance it takes to write such a sentence. There has been the Arab Spring. Anyone who claims something else is lying or does not understand the country. It is a slap in the faces of  the families who have lost their sons and daughters during the uprising.

The author added: “There were these young protesters, these bloggers, these families who were demonstrating for freedom and dignity and we thought they are like us.  And now this: strange images of  wild, religiously incited mobs in front of  the embassies of the United States.  Are the Arabs still irrationally, hostile and violent towards the West? ”

These  racially-charged rhetorical question is taking my  breath away.

Absurd analyzes are unfortunately no longer a rarity. So wrote “” on  September 13th: ” The protests against the anti-Islamic video in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo seem to have no end.”

That sounds almost as if the third world war is close and if  it can’t  be stopped anymore. As if the apocalypse is coming. The clashes ended just five days later.

On September 12th there was another article on the website of NTV: “Meanwhile  there are signs of a great wave of protests in the Islamic world.” What signs were they talking about ? In Cairo  most people have just shrugged their shoulders after I have asked them about the film and the demonstrations. “This is all ridiculous,” they said.

On  September 13th NTV continued: “Egypt’s capital Cairo is not calm yet.” I live in Cairo, in the city center, not far from Tahrir Square. I haven’t seen clashes, the city was quiet.

Santa Clause was probably there also

On  September 12th , one day after the anniversary of the attacks in 2001, wrote “”: “It is possible that even Al-Qaida supporters mingle with the protesters.”

A connection was not mentioned, it was not clear which country was meant.  Probably  Santa Clause was among the protesters also.

After reading  these reports  I may ask : “Who is irrational, violent and hostile towards the Arab world?”

It is time that long-established journalists are pushed away  from  their dusty desks in Germany. It’s time that reporters on the ground, who know the country and the people,  can find their voices in the media- coverage. Realistic and balanced.  And above all : With respect towards the  people. It is time to clear the way for young and passionate Reporters who refuse to use prejudices and who refuse to insult an entire region and  a community of faith. This young generation is already shaking the chairs of the old men and women. Sooner or later they will fall.

Original article in german: