Rights group blasts 'racist' US media

(15 November 2004) Al Jazeera -- A rights group has criticised some US media organisations for allowing racist and hate-filled speech during its coverage of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's death.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said it was deeply concerned with "the alarming hostility expressed by media commentators towards the Palestinian people in the wake of the death of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat", a statement said.

The ADC said US networks MSNBC and CNN both broadcast hostile commentary regarding Palestinians.

Don Imus, of the Imus in the Morning programme aired on weekends on MSNBC, referred to Arafat as a "rat" and called him "stinky" with "beady-eyes". Imus also said that "all Palestinians look like him".

The racist comments continued with one of his guests who described the Palestinians attending the funeral as "animals" and joked about their hygiene.

"They're dropping soap from the helicopters," the guest laughed.

Good riddance Arafat

Also on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough, presenter of Scarborough Country, began his programme by declaring: "Some are calling Yasir Arafat's passing a tragedy. He's actually the father of modern terrorism. Good riddance.

"This was, after all, the man who invented modern terrorism in the Middle East and by extension was the godfather of September 11."

Among the guests on the show was the Palestinian Authority representative to the United States, Hasan Abd al-Rahman, who while attempting to express his view, was interrupted by shouts of "where's the money?" by Scarborough in reference to international aid.

The ADC also said that CNN was guilty of one-sided, hostile comments.


"Plans call currently for Yasir Arafat to be buried in his compound in Ram Allah, which will eventually be turned into some kind of shrine. Maybe they'll put a sign out front for the Palestinian people, that reads: 'Here lays the body of the thief who robbed you blind'," said Jack Cafferty on CNN's morning programme, American Morning.

"Comments such as the ones listed can only be regarded as an overt incitement to ethnic hatred of the Palestinians," the ADC said in a statement.

"Surely the denigration of an ethnic group, a people who have been living under an ongoing 37-year Israeli military occupation, constitutes a violation of any system of journalistic standards.

"We should be seeking and working towards a just and lasting peace for the Israelis and the Palestinians instead of engaging in hateful rhetoric which dehumanises a people and affects perception of television viewers.

"We call on all members of the media to be objective in their reporting and commentary," the statement added.


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