Monday, December 05, 2005

The Indian Express indulges in sensationalism

An Indian Express headline proclaims "Curious stares at wife provoked Osama to jihad", in quotes. It points to an article in the New Yorker about Bin Laden's life and his embrace of radical Islam. The article quotes Khaled Batarfi, a friend of Bin Laden, recounting Bin Laden's trip to the US with his wife and kid, when his wife, who was dressed in the traditional Muslim Hijab, was subjected to some gawking and photography because of her outfit. And from that episode, the Indian Express concludes that it was this event that led Bin Laden to hate the US and engage in Jihad against the West.

I am confused. Is this a serious news report? Or just a joke? Because if it's serious, then the IE should also have reported the fact that "By Batarfi’s account, bin Laden was not particularly bitter about all the stares and the photographs; rather, “he was joking about it.”"

So this means that Bin Laden was not really pissed off at the US because of all the staring. Thus, it follows that the Express was just trying to sensationalize a non issue. Secondly, when something is in quotes, for example, 'Curious stares at wife provoked Osama to jihad', it usually means that someone actually said it. Although, in this case, as is to be expected, no one really did. So apart from deliberately misrepresenting something, the Express also indulged in borderline fakery.

From a cursory glance at the article, it appears to have been written by someone under the influence of alcohol. Because when one is under the influence of alcohol, frequently, any dumb idea that occurs to one appears to contain an inordinate amount of hilarity in it. This was one such idea. It was dumb, and it might have been hilarious if not for the fact that it was printed in a major media outlet as news.

The Indian Express has some growing up to do.

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