As if we needed any more proof that the international media
deliberately avoid exposing anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian injustices, their
suspect behaviour during recent days has sealed the case.
Even as we were being force-fed minute details of Michael
Jackson�s colourful life, along with endless speculation as to the true
parentage of his children, a former US congresswomen and presidential candidate,
Cynthia McKinney, was languishing in an Israeli jail.
Her �crime� was boarding the Free Gaza Movement�s aid vessel
The Spirit of Humanity in Cyprus, in an effort to break Israel�s cruel siege of
Gaza, which even the US president has condemned.
Like several of her sister vessels, The Spirit of Humanity
was attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters before being boarded
by Israeli commandos and dragged along with its crew and passengers towards
Once there, 21 human rights advocates from the US, Britain,
Ireland, Denmark, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen, including McKinney, Noble
Laureate Mairead Maguire, and documentary filmmaker Adam Shapiro, were
Let�s be realistic. If just about any other high-profile US
politician on any other mission had been detained within a cellblock on foreign
soil, the incident would have merited headlines.
However, McKinney�s abduction went almost unnoticed. Not
only was the story relegated to the back pages, if it ran at all, there was a
corresponding absence of comment from Congress and the White House.
McKinney was released and returned home after refusing to
sign a statement in Hebrew that she was guilty of a violation, but the
mainstream media are certainly not clamouring at her door for interviews.
As far as I can tell, her ordeal has mostly been covered by
left-wing outlets such as Democracy Now or Middle East networks including Al
Jazeera and Press TV.
A number of McKinney�s supporters say the reason for the
media blackout was the fact that she is a black American. But, in fact, it�s
her cause that�s the problem rather than her colour.
My analysis is based on the lack of media coverage given to
the Viva Palestina aid convoy of trucks and ambulances from London to Gaza, led
by British Parliamentarian George Galloway.
The Herculean efforts of hundreds of ordinary Britons to
deliver much-needed humanitarian supplies to war-torn Gaza earlier this year
was a non-event as far as the media was concerned until Galloway was barred
from entering Canada as a result.
Unless you�re a person who relentlessly digs on the Internet,
you probably are not aware that during McKinney�s ordeal, Galloway, along with
Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, were meeting up with over 200 Americans in Cairo
armed with $2 million (Dh7.35 million) that was raised in the US to buy trucks
and medical aid destined for Gaza. McKinney has joined the group in Egypt.
The Egyptian English-language paper Ahram Weekly dubs this �the
largest grassroots medical relief effort for Gaza in US history� but once
again, this doesn�t merit column inches in either US or European mainstream
In a similar vein, is the way that the horrendous courtroom
stabbing of 32-year-old Marwa Al Sherbini in Germany was considered
inconsequential by the German media until it elicited angry protests in her
hometown of Alexandria.
There are so many aspects to this story, which should have
been emblazoned across front pages.
First of all it was a blatant race crime, which Germany is
normally sensitive about. Second, it begs questions concerning court security.
What were armed officers doing when Marwa was stabbed 18
times and why was her husband shot when he attempted to protect his pregnant
What kind of editors would bin reports of such a horrendous
crime carried out in full view of the authorities? What were they thinking?
Purely coincidentally, I was sitting at a table with one of
Marwa�s uncles in an Alexandria coffee shop when he received a call on his
mobile and had to dash off because of a �family emergency.�
Today, this exceptionally close-knit family is devastated
and hurt that the murder of one of their own wasn�t initially treated with the
weight the crime deserved.
Egyptians are outraged at Germany�s disinterest and the
inaction of their own foreign office. The numbers who attended her funeral, who
gathered outside the German embassy in Cairo and who demonstrated in Cairo and
Alexandria speak for themselves.
Because Marwa�s dispute with her attacker was based on his
objections to her Islamic headscarf, the death of the young pharmacist has
become an emblem for the rights of Muslim women at a time when the French
President is attempting to ban the burqa. Marwa loved life.
She didn�t plan to become a martyr. But in the eyes of
Egyptians calling for a mosque and a street in Alexandria to be renamed in her
honour, she is a heroine.
If the US and Europe are chronically supine when it comes to
Muslim causes, then the governments and media throughout the Arab and Muslim
world should embrace them clearly and loudly.
With anti-Muslim hate crimes on the rise, Muslims need a
strong united voice on the international stage. Shame on the world�s media that
appears to be united only in their anti-Muslim bias!
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.