"A journalist should refrain from making pejorative reference to a person’s ethnic group, religion, sex or to any physical or mental illness or handicap" - Number 6 of the Code of Ethics for Journalists (DISCRIMINATION)
In a simple term, 'PEJORATIVE means “of words or expressions having an unpleasant or disparaging connotation.” It pains one anytime one reads analyses of some reporters on sensitive religious matters. The most painful thing is that these reporters hastily generalise what should never be generalised in their reportage. Many of them do this with a view to desperately selling their papers and achieving some hidden agenda known to them and their proprietors. I have always been saying that it is a logical and cerebral error for a reporter to tag a religion devilish just because an adherent of that faith behaves like a devil. My proposition has always been: "If Abubakar commits a punishable crime, he should be punished as a personality, not his religion. Also, the religion of John should not come into place if John commits a crime that is against humanity. It will be a double standard if the former's religion is pronounced and the latter's faith is silenced when the same gravity of crime is committed by the duo."
To be sincere with ourselves, the media, most times, behave like 'gunless' terrorists. A terrorist create terror and fear in the minds of people. The media too do this in their religious reportage, probably due to laziness, hatred, impatience, ignorance and eagerness to be the first to report a news item. They forget that it is a crime in journalism to always misinform the public on not only religion issues, but also on every matter. The media are always fast in labeling Muslims as paedophiles, murderers or terrorists as well as lovers of many women. These are what this piece looks forward to addressing.
‘MUSLIMS ARE PAEDOPHILES’
A paedophile is someone who is always attracted to having sexual intercourse with children or minors. In August 2015, Yinusa was alleged to have kidnapped a minor, Ese Oruru, from Bayelsa and took her to Kano; converted her and took her as a lover without the consent of her parents. Despite the fact that Yinusa’s actions were widely condemned by the Nigerian Muslims, many a Nigerian news medium was very quick to blame Islaam for what Yinusa did. Most human rights activists did a similar thing. Let us assume the story or stories were true as reported, does that give the media moral and ethical justifications to link Yinusa's crime to his faith? Is the media doing this hug-wash because Eze is or was a non-Muslim? However, in August 2016, a 29 year-old pastor, Prophet David Ifunaya allegedly abducted a 16 year-old girl for two weeks in Lagos without the consent of her parents. The prophet said he wanted to cast spell out of her. This teenager was said to be a Muslim. The irony of the matter is that no media establishment has ever blamed Christianity for what this self-acclaimed prophet did! We should not also easily forget Reverend King who was found guilty of killing his church members. A lady even said she served him naked most times. Does that make his faith a religion that condones murder and nudity? Also this year, one Prophet Idowu Oluawaseyi was arrested in Lagos for impregnating two sisters. Are we now to say Idowu's faith commands him to sleep with two sisters? Isn't that a common theory of logic?
In addition, when the Emir of Kano and former CBN Governor, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi Lamido Sanusi married an 18 year-old lady in 2015, the media castigated him. Some even called him a paedophile while some said Islaam encourages paedophilia. That is serious, you say? On August 12, 2016, Premium Times Newspaper reported that a 20-year old Timidou Jephther raped a 5-year old Queen Kaiser to dead in Bayelsa state. Nobody is yet to hear or listen to any media outpour against this rapist. Is it because he wasn’t a Muslim? Similarly, on May 29, 2016, Daily Post Newspaper reported that a 37 year-old Michael Ugwu was arrested for marrying a 12 year-old orphan, Nneka. Was Christianity blamed for Micheal’s action? Did the media say Christianity promote paedophilia because of that? Double standard theory you say?
‘MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS’
Even in logic, the fact that some set of ‘animals’ say that they kill innocent souls for God is not only erroneous, but also out of sane reasoning. They claim they are Muslims, but the question people fail to ask is: Does Islaam preach their Luciferous ideology? If NO, then, the media is totally wrong to have been labeling Muslims, especially, the ones with beard as terrorists in features and news analyses. Oh! Is it because these terrorists speak Arabic fluently? This is another logical error the media commit. Arabic is a language which anyone can learn, the same way a Yoruba man can learn and understand the nitty-gritty of English Language. Was ‘Wole Soyinka born an English man? His vast comprehension of English doesn’t make him a white man!
The basic argument here is that since the media fail to label those Christians who killed innocent souls as Christian terrorists, then, the Boko Haram terrorists and their ilks should not also be tagged as Islamic terrorists. A terrorist has no other name than a terrorist! Without sentiments, Muslims have dissociated themselves from the ideologies of these terrorists for a very long time. Furthermore, we should not forget that Henry Okah who masterminded the October 1, 2010 (Independence Day) Abuja bomb blast is a Christian. 12 people were reported dead in the attack. From 2010 till now, which news medium has ever referred Henry Okah as a Christian terrorist? Also, less than a year President Muhammadu Buhai was sworn in, the Niger Delta Avengers have been bombing oil installations. Majority of these ‘agitators’ are Christians. Even when MEND was still terrorizing the Niger Delta region before they were given amnesty, no one labeled the movement as a Christian militant group.
Similarly, when Ricky Daniel (from Edo) stowed away on Arik Air-line from Edo to Lagos unknown to any of its crew members, the 11 year old boy was praised by many media houses in this country. He was even given an award by a group for his 'bravery.' What would have happened if Daniel were to be a Mukhtar? Would he have escaped the 'swordy' pens of the media? Wouldn't the media have put his religion into consideration? Some weeks ago, Stephen Paddock shot dead over 50 people in Las Vegas, America, leaving many injured. It's recorded as the greatest mass murder in the history of America. Over 40 guns were said to have been found in his hotel rooms. Unfortunately, instead of tagging him a terrorist, the media called him a gunman and murderer! What would Stephen have been called if he were Sideeq?
‘MUSLIMS ARE LOVERS OF MANY WOMEN’
In Islaam, a man is permitted to marry maximum of four wives, absolutely YES! Does Islaam compel a man to do this? No, it doesn’t. The beauty of this rule is that any man who cannot fulfil all righteousness among these four women he wishes to marry should never marry more than one. If he does, that becomes a sin on his part. So, logically, it is very rare to see a man with more than a legal wife to be accused of adultery or any infidelity of sort. The primary headache of most mainstream media is just to misrepresent Islaam as a religion that subjects women to emotional torture so far it promotes polygamy. That is simply a bogus bogey! These so-called bogus analysts have forgotten that a larger percentage of those non-Muslims who profess the philosophy-“Me and my wife” engage in extra-marital affairs. I am not condemning the philosophy; I am only condemning the hypocrisy behind the philosophy.
Instead of committing adultery, why don’t they go for another wife? Oh! Their faith doesn’t allow that? Oh! Their clerics forbid such? But the faith doesn’t or those clerics don’t forbid infidelity? What an irony! For instance, in May 2016, Pastor Sunday Adelaja was alleged to have had extramarital affairs with at least 20 women in his church. In August 2016, another pastor, Prophet Obi was stripped to his underpants for having sex with a married woman in Asaba. In the same year, a 42 year-old Doris Oseni caught her husband, Prophet Femi Oseni whom she had married for 12 years, having sex with another woman on the floor of his church’s office. Imagine if these ‘prophets’ were to be ‘Imaams,’ wouldn’t the media have concluded that Islaam professes infidelity? As Muslims, will it now be logical for us to conclude that these Christian prophets did what their faith professes? What an irony!
In order not to make this piece so long a letter, I will therefore say that it’s time the media prioritised professionalism over sentiments, hatred, false analogy and shallow reporting. In addition, I recommend that the enlightened Muslims should not relent in educating the Ummah, especially, the unsuspecting Muslims who are likely to be carried away by the wind of lies; the Muslims should silent no more – their intellectual pens should be put to work, though, they might be tagged fanatics or fundamentalists for defending Islaam. They should not be perturbed. Also, every Muslim parent should see the need for their wards and children to learn the fundamentals of Islaam from the right sources and at the right time. Lastly, the media should always be ethical and professional enough in whatever news item they report or analysis they make. They should put aside their religious, political, emotional and personal sentiments or interests in their reportage. If all these are sincerely and effectively adhered to, everybody will live in peace, love, trust, togetherness and clear mindsets.
Jazaakumu Allaahu khayran for time.
Olansile Ajetunmobi Umar (OAU) can be reached via
+2347057770392, [email protected]