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Fort Hood, the media and the Muslim angle

November 13, 2009

We had a robust discussion about the Fort Hood shooting in my Journalism & Religion class on Monday. This tragedy quickly became a religion story. Really, it was within hours of the shooting that we learned the suspect’s name and religion. And right away, we journalists began calling Muslim leaders and organizations for comment. And right away, those Muslim leaders and organizations provided statements condemning the attack. This is religion coverage in a post-9/11 world. We in the media know how to track the religion angle, and Muslims know it’s in their best interest to speak up when one of their own commits a crime.

Still, one of my students said that another professor had complained bitterly that the media was overlooking Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s religion, that the Islamic faith motivated the killings and journalists were pussyfooting around the issue.

I don’t see it. Not at all. I mean, the second-day Web headline on Statesman.com blared Hasan’s alleged pre-rampage declaration of “Allahu Akbar.” And all the major news outlets covered Hasan’s Muslim identity and connections to a radical imam, the whole bit.

And now, this conservative media watchdog group accuses the mainstream media of downplaying the Muslim link. From One News Now:

Rich Noyes, director of research at the MRC, feels that the media is overlooking another piece of evidence linking the shooting to Muslim terrorist activity. “You see a lot of timidity in the media trying to connect terrorism with the broader war on terror in spite of the evidence that keeps coming out,” he argues. “I think a lot of the PC media are skipping over these things.”

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