Thursday, 20 August 2009

What the papers say...

I woke up this morning to find a friend had sent me, and about 300 other people (you should have Bcc'd their addresses mate they won't be happy), a link to an article reminding us of a joke, which has passed through the system more times than water in London passes through other human bodies before you get to drink it. Every so often another Muslim thinks they've come across it for the first time and it finds its way into our inboxes yet again. There have been many versions of it but this is the one I remember.

A man attending an open air festival in the US sees a dog attacking a child - one of the really vicious breeds (the dog, not the child). He wrestles the dog to the ground, gets a stick inside the dog's collar and keeps twisting till he chokes it. The dog dies. The child who escapes with only some minor injuries, is taken away in an ambulance. Onlookers applaud the man's actions.
A reporter covering the festival witnesses the brave intervention and rushes up to the man to get some details off him promising that the story will make the front page in his paper with the headline: 'Local Man saves child from Mad Dog'.
"Oh I'm not from around here, I'm just visiting", the man says.
"Ok then", says the reporter, "how about: 'All American hero saves child from Hell Hound'?"
"I picked up this accent attending the American International school in my home city, actually I'm on holiday from overseas", says the man.
"No problem, how about: 'Foreign hero saves child from dog attack'?", suggests the reporter.
"Well if you want to be specific I'm visiting from Kuwait actually".
"That's in the Middle East right?"

When the paper gets published the headline reads: "Muslim Terrorist kills American family pet".

It reminded me of one year when I subscribed to the online version of a local paper, when I was working in a large English city with a sizable Muslim minority. Just as an experiment, with nothing particularly scientific about it, I decided to check it each day for 12 months, searching for key words to see if I could find one single story where Muslims were portrayed in a positive light. Just when I thought I had completely lucked out, I finally found a reference to a story on 'wonderful Arabians'.

It was about horses.

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