Anti-Islamaphobia Protest Targets the Press

By Tess Owen

Muslims protest coverage of two incidents by CNN and Fox

On Saturday, February 14th, a demonstration was held in response to two recent incidents—the shooting of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the torching of an Islamic school in Houston, Texas—and the way that both events were handled by mainstream media.

In spite of frigid temperatures and a forecast for snow, protesters assembled at midday outside the CNN offices near Columbus Circle before proceeding to the Fox news headquarters, chanting “No justice, no peace”

Tariq Mohammed, an organizer, stopped chanting, and looked down at a piece of paper he held in his hands, which was covered in his notes for possible protest slogans. He looked concerned. “I don’t know about saying, “No Justice, No Peace” you know? The words might be taken the wrong way. We are peaceful people, so we don’t want to think negatively.”

A protester standing close by said, “But everyone says that, No Justice, No Peace.”

“I understand,” Mohammed continued, “but with everything going on right now, we don’t want anyone to have a negative reaction to our words.”

Ibrahim Mossallam, another one of the organizers, said that he believed the recent events were only “the tip of the iceberg.”

“Racism is a curse of this country,” Mossallam continued, “and it’s promoted by the media’s choices about what to cover.”

Organizers of the demonstration faulted the media for their sluggish response to the Chapel Hill shootings—citing inconsistent reporting where Muslim victims are concerned; demonstrators chanted: “CNN, Shame, Shame. Double Standards is your name.”

Other protesters voiced criticisms of the language used by CNN in their report of the shootings, particularly relative to their coverage of the assault on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical weekly.

The latter incident was deemed an act of terror by mainstream media outlets, whereas the primary suspect involved in killing three Muslim students received no such label. For some at the protest, this was evidence of Islamaphobia. Protesters of all ages stood in the cold outside CNN, touting placards that read, among others, “Terrorism has no religion.”  CNN and Fox did not return several messages inviting comment.