Syrian Bombing and How the News Portrays the Story

Posted on May 17, 2013 by

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The media portrays religions around the world in a way that makes different religions around the world show their negative side. This nation’s news networks work to inform citizens living in the U.S. how radical or peaceful other religions around the world are. But the effect that tends to come off is mostly negative stereotypes, from which bigotry can emerge. This essay will analyze a recent news story that was covered by radically different news stations in an attempt to show how relying on one news source will leave you open to bias information. Each news station gets to choose how to showcase world wide stories. The stories that get the most construed tend to be violent religious events that turn the favor against a specific religion. The three mediums I will be analyzing are Fox News, The New York Times, and MSNBC. Each of these stations is known for either being relatively Conservative or Liberal, which will attribute to intensity of coverage during a religious news subject. These large national news stations became popular because people feel like they prefer with one station over the other. When people lean towards one station, they allow themselves to be informed by the figure heads controlling the station, thus allowing them to control the bias of certain religions and cultures. Because there are those who want to control the direction a news story goes, this is because there is no such thing as an unbiased news station. This is why news stories are printed differently with a different message and bias towards an issue. The United States relies on these media formats to receive information of the outside world. Various world religions, unless taught by a teacher who has a well rounded education of each religion, can be hard to gather information on. Specific cultural references are connected with past events that made a religion take on the public spotlight. These events usually grow big if they involve religious violence. Once a culture is harmed by another culture, there becomes a tendency to make negative stereotypes of one invading religion that start to emerge. These stereotypes are what causes bigotry in the U.S., and why someone with a specific religious affiliation gets discriminated against, even if they had nothing to do with a previous religious attack. People will associate what they can with foreign culture that they do not understand, which is why information they gather form news sources create biases and positive or negative thinking’s towards a religion. This essay will look at one story and will make a summary of each story told by these three different news stations. Afterwards, there will be an analysis of how these stories differ and why each station might have taken the side they did. The news story that these three news stations will review is the bombing of a Mosque by Muslim extremist in Syria. In this news story, a Muslim suicide bomber blew up a Mosque, killing around 49 people. This tragedy was sure to draw the attention of most Americans, and news station that would want to cover the story. Specific words will be shown in quotations to show the effects each news stations choose to use in describing the story.

Fox news will be the first news station that I shall be analyzing in its efforts to tell a recent religious news story. According to the news article found on Fox’s news site, President Bashar Assad of Syria vowed to “wipe out” Muslim extremist in Syria. The suicide bombing at the mosque killed and injured many people, several of the injured dying overnight. This bombing was seen as one of the most “brazen” assassinations of the Syrian civil war. The civil war has seen many bombings that were blamed on the Islamic extremists. Fox noted that a preacher named Al-Buti, a senior religious figure was killed during the civil war, which had a lasting effect on the Syrian president. The story delves into the relationship between the preacher and Assad as their relationship went back to the president’s father’s regime. Fox noted that the Sunnis being the “majority sect in Syria” while the president was from a different sect known as the Alawite. The Syrian-run news agency called SANA reported that al-Buti represented the true Islam that faced the true power of the extremists. “Your blood and your grandson’s, as well as that of all the nation’s martyrs will not go in vain because we will continue to follow your thinking to wipe out their darkness and clear our country of them,” Assad said. The Story talks about how during the March 2011 peaceful protects against Assad took place a few years ago. This was compared to the revolt that took place resulting in a civil war causing violent actions to take place in the country. The U.N. said over 70,000 people had been killed since then. The U.N. became involved sending a probe to Syria to investigate the situation. The Syrian government has stated that Saturday would be a day of mourning for the victims, as the regular television programs were to be halted to air readings from the Muslim holy book, the Quran. The Story noted that earlier in the month, al-Buti stated that it was “a religious duty to protect the values, the land and the nation” of Syria. The story continues by tallying other bombings that recently took place in the country noting that many more people being killed and wounded due to this religious civil war. The story ends with noting the clashes between neighboring neighborhoods Bab Tabbaneh, which support the Syrian rebels, and Jabal Mohsen, which supports Assad. Fox also noted how Lebanon was likely to be dragged into the conflict in Syria.
MSNBC created its own news coverage of the story which will be summarized in this paragraph. NBC notes how Bashar Assad, president of Syria, vows to rid the country of Muslim extremists that were blamed for the bombing of a Mosque in Damascus Syria. The top Sunni preacher was in the Mosque during the bombing and was killed. The preacher was a strong supporter of the Syrian president, increasing the motive of wiping out Muslim extremists as stated by the Syrian president. The Syrian leader threatened to have his troops “wipe out” the “forces of darkness” that were hurting their country. NBC notes that the death toll rose to 49 after several of the wounded died overnight. The suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Mosque which takes place in the center of the Syrian capital. This bombing also killed Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti who was giving a sermon at the time. The government halted all regular television programs on that Friday so they could broadcast readings from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, with additional speeches from the late cleric. NBC noted that the killing of this cleric was one of the most shocking in the two-year civil war, marking a new low in the conflict. The grandson of al-Buti was also killed during the bombing. Assad noted how the Islam extremist represented “the forces of darkness and extremist”. “Your blood and your grandson’s, as well as that of all the nation’s martyrs will not go in vain because we will continue to follow your thinking to wipe out their darkness and clear our country of them,” quoted Assad. The article notes how the crisis began in March of 2011 as peaceful protests, which turned into a violent civil war when opposition took up arms. The article notes how the U.N. states that more than 70,000 people were killed since the civil war began. The article continues to show the relationship between Assad and the preacher, who was a strong supporter of the president’s regime of Assad’s father. The Sunnis make up the majority sect of Syria while Assad represents the minority of the Alawite sect in the country. A speech made by al-Buti had him quoted saying that it is “a religious duty to protect the values, the land and the nation” of Syria. The article ends by noting how in July, attacks took place at a government crisis meeting, killing four top regime officials, including Assad’s brother-in-law, and how a car bomb in the previous month, went off in the same area, killing 53 people and wounding more than 200.

This article written by The New York Times discussed a large explosion destroying a Mosque in Syria. This explosion took place in a central Damascus mosque, killing around 42 people including a top Sunni cleric. This cleric was one of the few supporters of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian news blamed the explosion on suicide bombers who were sent by “mercenary terrorists against Syrians.” The first accusations were sent towards the Free Syrian Army, who denied responsibility noting that they would not attack a mosque. The New York Times noted that the news of the mosque explosion “overshadowed” the battle over whether chemical weapons were used in the Syrian conflict that week. Assad’s government and opposing forces make the accusations that the other was firing chemical missiles in Kahn al-Assal in the Aleppo Province. A formal investigation has begun over the accusations. So far, there has been no confirmation that any chemical missiles had been used. The NY times did not know if Mr. Assad and his forces had been known to have stockpiles of said banned chemical weapons. This risk of missile stockpiling has caused the United States to give many warnings that the use of these weapons would cause involvement of the U.S. military in the conflict. The Syrian news Agency called SANA, noted the number of wounded people hurt from the explosion, and the SANA website published photographs of the bloody aftermath. These photos depicted large pools of blood, and the damages the building had sustained. The article went on to note how the cleric, Sheik Mohammad Said Ramada al-Bouti was one of the most important senior figures in Sunni Islam to die in the civil war so far. This civil war was noted as taking more than 70,000 peoples lives. Mr. Assad’s legitimacy was hurt because this cleric had died as he was a supporter of Assad and his family. “He was the most important Sunni clerical supporter of the Assad regime,” said Joshua M. Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “It is a great blow to the regime and the remaining Sunni supporters of the president.” The article continues to talk about the successes of the late sheik, noting that he had written around 40 books, and was ranked 23rd on the list of most influential Muslims in the world. Although their has been no one to come forward to claim responsibility of the explosion, the SANA blames the armed insurgents quoting “This massacre adds to the crimes perpetrated by the mercenary terrorists against the Syrians,” and Mr. Assad’s Party leadership quoted saying “They target everything, including the mosques and houses of worship.” The agency stated the motives behind the attack were due to the traitors attempting to silence the voice of Syria, who was also the right hand of Syria, and the image of Syria. The next section of the articles discusses a local living in the area, who described his experience after hearing the explosion. Syrian fighters and anti-Assad activists were interviewed saying that the regime was involved in the assassination. Others expressed doubt of this, stating the regime would not get rid of such an important figure. The article ended by noting how Susan E. Rice, an American ambassador of the United Nations, made a statement saying the U.S. liked the idea of an investigation of chemical weapons that may currently be stockpiled in Syria.

In the three different news stories analyzed above, we can find some similarities and some differences. Both NBC and Fox news note how Bashar Assad, president of Syria, vows to rid the country of Muslim extremists that were blamed for the bombing of a Mosque in Damascus Syria. All three articles note the top Sunni preacher, who was a strong supporter of Assad, had been killed in the bombing. The articles noted the importance halting all regular television programs so the Quran could be read in an attempt to bring the nation together with their religion. The Islam extremists were noted as “the forces of darkness” by each article, showing the negative image these people bring to themselves. The president’s vendetta is noted in the Fox and MSNBC article, exemplifying the rage he has against the Islamic extremists. All three articles discuss the relationship the preacher had with Assad’s family, showing the importance religion has on political campaigns in Syria. The New York Times differed from the other two articles by discussing the chemical weapons that were possibly being stockpiled in Syria. The New York Times seems to switch its focus from the bombing to the issue and threat of chemical missiles being used by Syria, and how there was a need to have someone from the U.N. check out the situation. All three articles discus the horror of the civil war in Syria noting that over 70,000 people had died since it began. Only The New York Times discussed the successes of the late cleric, noting the number of books he had written, and how influential he was in the Muslim community. The New York Times seems to be the only article that speculated who was responsible for the bombings, as the other two news sources did not delve very deep into the investigation. These three different news sources all give a good amount of detail of the story, and only The New York Times differs from the rest. This analyzed group of stories has shown that among these three news sources, the information presented is pretty similar. This is not to say that one should stop at three sources when researching an event, as more information could be present from news sites that dig deeper in a specific subject. Bias will always be present in news sources, but what you choose to believe is determined by how much research you do, and what figure heads you get your information from.

By: Alexander Grafton

New Sources

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/22/syria-assad-vows-to-cleanse-nation-extremists/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/world/middleeast/senior-pro-assad-sunni-imam-in-syria-is-assassinated.html

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/22/17413826-syrias-assad-pledges-to-wipe-out-extremists-after-suicide-attack-kills-top-preacher?lite

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