Critical Commentary: Germany Arrests 4 and Bans Groups Linked to Salafism

Posted on March 19, 2013 by

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Aaron Erickson, author MELISSA EDDY, Germany Arrests 4 and Bans Groups Linked to Salafism, New York Times, March 13, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/world/europe/germany-arrests-4-and-bans-groups-linked-to-salafism.html?_r=0

       In the article, “Germany Arrests 4 and Bans Groups Linked to Salafism,” written by Melissa Eddy on March 13, 2013, Eddy describes a situation of conflict between an extremist Islamic group and the leader of a far-right political party.  The political party leader had been taunting Muslims with caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad thus insulting Islam, and threatened to do it more.  Members of the Islamic group who are involved in a movement known as Salafism were arrested on suspicion of a plot to murder the leader of this group.  The article can be analyzed in many different ways through many different angles in regards to motives, perspectives, and how the article was written for the reader.  

       The first impressions got through reading the title of the article, along with the first sentence could make people uneducated on the Islam have bad connotations towards the religion.  The first sentence does this by making it sound like the whole religion of Islam is apart of the Salafism movement.  One example of the type of phrasing without explanation being used that create these generalizations is; “Islamic movement known as Salafism.”  Salamis involves a small group of extremist Sunnis who believe that their interpretation of the Qur’an is the right.  Their goal is convert all Muslims and insure that their version of Islam is the dominating religion in the world.  The writer of the article did not explain this, however, leaving the generalization that all Muslims are like this.  The general tone throughout it helps reinforce the stereotype that Muslims are violent, extreme people.  

        The sources used throughout the article seam to be very reliable.  They used many examples to back up the information presented about both the Islamic group and the political party.  However, Eddy does tend to have picked information that has a bias against the Islamic group.  “He further pointed to the suspected plot ot kill Markus Beisicht, the leader of the far-right Pro- NRW party, as evidence of the dangers posed by associations that follow the extreme form of Islam embraced by Salafists.”  This quote from the article is one example of the bias.  Eddy does not support the groups motives and thinks that mostly bad can come from it.  In general, however, both the political leader and the Islamic group can be seen as bad guys.  The political leader should not be taunting one of the main religious figures for Muslims and the Muslims should not be reciprocating this act with violence.  I do not support either of the groups motives or actions that have taken place thus far.  

        The coverage of this event could have been augmented by the writers through  political reasons.  Though the political leader started the conflict, the Islamic group’s way of reciprocating with violence was brought to light in the news more than what sparked it.  You tend to see the motives of the people who control the media in society society—the political party—over the extremist group.  The general attitude toward Islam in this article can be seen as negative.  The article does not do a great job of differentiating the extremist Islamic group from the Islamic religion in general.  I think that the coverage of the event was done in a way that did a good job of attracting my attention.  They inserted information that did not glorify either parties in the event—the mocking caricatures made by the political party leader, and the attempted murder by the Islamic group.  This sparked a level of curiosity on what is going to happen next in the situation.  

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