Dr. John Cohn wrote this letter to The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, in response to the paper’s call to European readers, especially Muslims, to answer questions including what kind of anti-Muslim bias they have experienced.
Dear Ms. Sullivan,
While on the Times website I came across the following pages, with the caption, “Share your experiences as a Muslim in Europe, The New York Times would like to hear from Europeans, particularly Muslims, about their experiences.” The link took me to a page with preloaded questions, such as:
- What types of anti-Muslim bias, if any, have you experienced or witnessed in your daily life?
- If you are Muslim, how comfortable are you practicing Islam in Europe?
- In the aftermath of the attacks, how might your life change, if at all?
This led me to wonder if the Times had similarly solicited information from Christians in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran or Iraq, or gays, women or Christians in Gaza. Has it?
There are, of course, no Jews to query in those places, but you could ask Israeli Christians how they are doing in the only Middle Eastern country with a growing Christian population compared to their co-religionists in neighboring Arab states… Likewise, at this time of trouble, I would think you would be soliciting the concerns of all Europeans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, agnostics and atheists.
Similarly, I was struck that your paper asked, “What types of anti-Muslim bias, if any, have you experienced or witnessed.” I think the lawyers call that a leading question.
In the memory of some Times readers, 6 million Jews were murdered by Europeans. And it was the synagogues of Paris, not the mosques that closed last weekend from fear of violence. I will not defend anti-Muslim bigotry, nor do I want to suggest some universal Islamic responsibility for acts of violence claimed by the perpetrators to be in the name of Islam, but who has the most to fear?
Or does that not lead to the story your reporters have already decided to write?
John R. Cohn