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Another way to look at the differences in the Tiller and Long murders

June 11, 2009

So I recently posted about folks concerned that the media was covering the murder of the abortion doc (allegedly by a Christian extremist) with more zeal than they were the murder of the Army recruiter (allegedly by a Muslim extremist). And there were good arguments made on that front.

BUT (and this is why it’s SO important to have Muslim media outlets in the U.S.) our friends at AltMuslim have pointed out a different sort of discrepancy. The Christian suspect (Scott Roeder) in the Dr. Tiller slaying is being charged with murder. The Muslim suspect (Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad) in the Long case is being charged with murder AND terrorism. Why aren’t terrorism charges applied to the Christian suspect? Junaid M. Afeef, executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, wants to know:

Let’s start with the terrorism charges. Domestic terrorism is defined as an act that is dangerous to human life (guns were fired in the direction of the victims – this requirement is met) and which is a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or any State (both shootings fulfill this requirement) and which appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by, among other things, assassination (an argument for this element can be made in both shootings).

Now, I disagree with Afeef that the media didn’t focus on Roeder’s religion and obviously he does not believe the media gave fair treatment for Muslims, but he does make an excellent argument about the charges. Of course, it probably comes down to a legal issue, state vs. federal charges, etc. And as some commenters on the site pointed out, the murders happened in different states which have different laws about such things. 

But still, the piece is very thought-provoking and a good reminder for journalists to make sure they are always striving for fairness and balance.

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