Taiwan

Why Muslim news media have shied away from covering the Uighur persecution story

Why Muslim news media have shied away from covering the Uighur persecution story

As with other religions, Islam embodies the concept of like-minded believers sharing a global destiny no matter which nation they live in.

In Arabic, this idea is known as the Ummah. Militant Islamists invoke it repeatedly to convince Muslims they are obligated to aid Muslims persecuted by non-Muslims.

How does this work in practice? As with Christians (the extensive history of Christian nations fighting other Christian nations is hardly unknown), the idealized notion that co-religionists can count on fellow believers in stressful times is highly limited.

Witness the lack of global Muslim efforts to assist their Chinese Uighur co-religionists currently being brutalized by the Chinese government. Or the relative dearth of Uighur-related news coverage emanating from Muslim-majority nations.

Western media, on the other hand, have covered the Uighur story like a blanket — despite the geographic, logistical and political hurdles making it difficult to do so. Here at GetReligion, we’ve posted repeatedly on the Uighur situation the past few years.

One Western publication I think has done an excellent job with the story is Foreign Policy. The magazine has published, online, two strong pieces on the Uighurs in just the past couple of weeks.

Here’s one from late October that tells how China is planting strangers who absurdly identify themselves as “relatives” in Uighur homes to monitor them. Here’s the second, published last week, detailing that Uighurs are so desperate to escape Chinese persecution that some are actually fleeing to Afghanistan for safety.

Consider that for a moment. True, Afghanistan is a Muslim nation. But it’s also a land of continual warfare where even the innocent can become collateral damage at any time. So fleeing to Afghanistan hardly ensures peaceful sanctuary. And yet they do.

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Taiwan and gay marriage: Can journalists face the fact that there are two sides to the story?

Taiwan and gay marriage: Can journalists face the fact that there are two sides to the story?

Taiwan, as of this past week, is poised to allow same-sex marriage, the first country in Asia to do so. This has gotten all sorts of cheering from various mainstream media outlets. The reason why the writers of this blog care about this issue is that the opposition to such measures tend to be from the religious community. And those folks aren’t being heard from.

There’s a lot at stake with Taiwan accepting gay marriage, as Taiwan is seen as the gateway to the rest of eastern Asia. Why else do you think McDonalds floated a TV ad showing a Chinese son coming out to his father? Anyone who thinks the religious community are the only folks in Taiwan thinking about family values must be asleep at the wheel. That McDonald’s ad focuses on a most revered family building block in Asia: The tie between father and son. 

So when the world’s largest hamburger chain gets into the act, you know the stakes are high for the cultural powers that be. Tmatt has written before about Taiwan coverage that gives one side of the argument, briefly mentions the opposition from the country’s tiny Christian community but doesn’t mention what the vastly larger contingents of Taoists and Buddhists on the island are saying about it. More on that in a bit.

Also, there actually are some good religion angles on this issue, despite the reluctance among some American media in covering them. For instance, the Hong Kong-based Sunday Examiner has written on the divisions among Taiwan’s Christian groups over how to battle gay marriage. On May 24, Taiwan’s highest court ruled that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. We’ll pick up with what the New York Times said next:

TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a ruling that paves the way for Taiwan to become the first place in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage, the constitutional court on Wednesday struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman. ...
When the ruling was announced, cheers broke out among the hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside the legislature, monitoring developments on a big-screen television.

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Washington Post asks: Will the tiny Christian flock in Taiwan defeat same-sex marriage?

Washington Post asks: Will the tiny Christian flock in Taiwan defeat same-sex marriage?

There is no question who LGBTQ activists in Taiwan blame for the fact that their drive to legalize same-sex marriage is having problems. It's the Christians.

Thus, there is no question who The Washington Post blames for the fact that same-sex marriage faces strong opposition in Taiwan, a nation that LGBTQ activists have been counting on to blaze a progressive trail for Asia. It's the Christians.

The result -- "A backlash against same-sex marriage tests Taiwan’s reputation for gay rights" -- is a classic example of what your GetReligionistas call "Kellerism," with a nod to those 2011 remarks by former New York Times editor Bill Keller. The basic idea is that there is no need for journalists to offer balanced, accurate coverage of people -- especially religious believers -- whose views you have already decided are wrong. Error has no rights in some newsrooms.

So what forces are undercutting Taiwan's multicultural legacy of tolerance?

... (The) groundswell of support that spurred hope for marriage equality has spurred a bitter backlash that has experts and advocates wondering when or whether the law will move ahead.
Over the past year, mostly Christian community groups have mobilized against the marriage-equality movement, warning, contrary to evidence, that same-sex partnerships are a threat to children and that giving LGBT families legal protection will hurt Taiwan.
They have also claimed -- again, contrary to evidence -- that protecting the rights of gender and sexual minorities is a Western idea, that being gay is somehow not “Chinese.”

So, how many Christian leaders are quoted in this lengthy Post feature? 

Well, there is one short quote from a secular politician, Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san, who was speaking in a public hearing. There is a second-hand quote of conservative arguments, care of an interview from a gay-rights activist. Actual quotes from interviews with Christian leaders? Zero.

Meanwhile, there are a minimum of seven voices speaking on the other side. This does not include paragraph after paragraph of paraphrased material backing the LGBTQ side of the argument, facts and arguments that -- in the new Post advocacy news style -- require no attribution to named sources.

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