CAIR-Chicago Director of Communicaitons, Ahmed Rehab, joined a group of Chicago community leaders for a closed meeting with the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, to discuss the paper’s coverage of Islam and Muslims.
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of the Mosque Foundation and a CAIR-Chicago board member organized and led the meeting that was also attended by Rafiq Jaber, Karen Danielson, Connie Aburahma, Shafiq Badran, Ousama Jammal, and Dr. Talal Sunbuli. The Tribune team led by Chief Editor Bruce Dold and Public Editor Don Wycliff was lead on a tour of the Mosque, the surrounding Islamic school premises, and the newly created Muslim Youth Center.
During the discussions, Dr. Sahloul, Rehab, and co. praised the Tribune for instances of good coverage then carefully sifted through a list of Muslim grievances regarding the negative coverage.
“We are not asking the news media to take our side or support our stances on issues of controversy” said Ahmed Rehab, “but what we do demand absolutely and resolutely is fair, balanced, and accurate coverage – the very tenants of good journalism these good people made an oath to uphold. If you are going to report on one side of a story, then you need to report on the other side as well”.
Rehab added that it’s time the media began to report on the American Muslim community outside of its crisis areas. “This is a rich, diverse, and upright community, there is ample opportunities for positive reporting, yet we only ever hear about Muslims in lieu of terrorism, counterterrorism, or the Middel-East conflict – and even then it is mostly negative. Where is coverage of the heartbeat of the local community, where are the human faces of the American-Muslims? Where is coverage of their fears & aspirations, their achievements and accomplishments?”
Rehab stressed that he does not believe in conspiracy theories: “The people writing those stories are just regular people like you or I, they are not out to get anyone,” Rehab went on to attribute media bias to “ignorance”.
“This is where we must step in to help”, he said of the Muslim community’s role in educating and engaging the media.
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