The rioters who have terrorized Paris for two weeks now have been called many things by the mainstream media: poor, disaffected, disenfranchised, mostly immigrants or children of. But one label applied to them in passing, if at all, is one that is certainly not unimportant or irrelevant: “Muslim.”
Anyone reading the accounts of perhaps the most respected news organization on earth, the Associated Press, would have no clue that Muslims were primarily behind the riots. Ditto for those consuming the BBC, though at least that is a little less surprising. And while Reuters, the New York Times, and the LA Times each feel compelled to mention that many rioters are Muslim, they treat that fact as, at most, incidental. (As Daniel Pipes has noted, the situation in the French media is no different.)
By all accounts, the primary contingent of rioters is Muslim. There have been some copycats, and there are anecdotal reports of native Frenchmen participating in the organized chaos. But there is no denying that most of the rioters are Muslim. Unless, of course, you’re in the mainstream media.
An AP story filed late Sunday night waited until the end of the 8th paragraph to identify where exactly the rioters are wreaking havoc. Deep in the story, the AP informs its readers: “Violence has been concentrated in poor suburbs with large immigrant populations.”
The hot zones are indeed “poor suburbs with large immigrant populations.” But they’re also heavily Muslim. And it was Muslims who were almost exclusively involved in instigating the initial waves of violence. Through the 11th day of rioting, it appears that Muslims—particularly when copycats are not counted—still account for most of the rioters. Yet none of this context appears in the AP story.
Here is how the venerable news agency explained the mushrooming violence:
The violence has escalated from an outburst of anger in suburban Paris housing projects into a nationwide show of disdain for French authority from youths and minorities, most French-born children of Arab and black Africans angered by years of unequal opportunities.
The word “Muslim” appears exactly once in the 1,000 word dispatch—at the very end. Seemingly tacked on at the close of the article is the following: “Government officials have held a series of meetings with Muslim religious leaders, local officials and youths from poor suburbs to try to calm the violence.” (emphasis added)
Similar was a BBC story that merely described the urban battlegrounds as “poor, largely immigrant communities with high levels of unemployment.” Just afterward, in the next-to-last paragraph—and out of nowhere—is this: “Muslim leaders have urged politicians to show respect for immigrant communities.”
So Muslims apparently are not involved in the riots, except in calling for their end.
Perhaps this is by the design of the French government. An AP story from Friday afternoon quotes national police spokesman Patrick Hamon saying that there was “nothing that allows us to say that Islamists” were behind car burnings, police shootings, and other acts of sadistic violence, such as setting on fire a woman on crutches as she was exiting a bus.
Treating its readers with a modicum more respect, the NY Times at least acknowledged that “a majority of the youths committing the acts are Muslim”—but buried that tidbit more than 1,000 words into a 1,400 article. And in the same sentence, the paper hastened to add that “the mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones.”
No religious overtones? Then why did many of the rioters, after a canister of tear gas rolled up to the steps of a mosque on Day 4, reportedly declare that their actions were a “Jihad”?
The “Jihad” chants were only reported by the mainstream media, it appears, by Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey in a piece for the November 14 issue titled, “Rage on Rue Picasso: Will the riots swell the ranks of jihadists in Europe?”
Of course everyone knows that the fact that the rioters are primarily Muslim is significant. How is a different question. But it is self-evident that the violence is largely unique to Muslims. That’s why even the AP and the BBC, both of whom otherwise pretend to be blind to the religion of those destroying whole towns, mention that it is Muslim leaders urging calm.
The BBC, while engaging in absurd acrobatics in its reporting on the riots to avoid even the mention of the word “Muslim”—unless it’s to describe those calling for peace—has an entire series on the state of Muslims in France. It is labeled “background” for the riots stories—and it was only kicked off after the riots had raged for several days.
The role Islam—whether as opportunistic rallying cry, through hateful teachings in the name of the religion, or otherwise—played in the riots is something we might not know for some time. If ever. But it is certainly relevant. So why do so many in the mainstream media consider it not even worth mentioning?
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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