Daily Archives: September 15, 2010

New England's Own Muslim Controversy Simmers

Published September 15, 2010

American Muslims, also known as Americans, prayed for unity on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, in Bridgeview, Ill. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

American Muslims, also known as Americans, prayed for religious unity on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, in Bridgeview, Ill. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

It’s like the “Ground Zero mosque” controversy in newspaper form. And it’s right here in New England.

To mark the end of Ramadan, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald printed a front-page photo of American Muslims praying. It ran on Sept. 11.

Readers complained “en masse,” according to the the publisher, for “insensitivity” to the Americans who died on that day nine years ago. There’s even a Facebook page to boycott the paper. (“The muslim criminals killed almost 3000 inocent (sic) Americans,” writes one commenter.)

The Press Herald publisher, Richard Connor, has since apologized:

Many saw Saturday’s front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, September 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago.

We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.

It’s not apparent what kind of “balance” the editors could have offered here. The Press Herald suffers from an unfortunate limitation of its medium: The news in its pages happens the day before it’s printed. The Muslim gathering featured on the front page happened on 9/10. The paper’s extensive 9/11 coverage ran on 9/12. (Remember, that famous NYT cover is dated Sept. 12, 2001.)

Dan Kennedy calls the Press Herald apology “repulsive.” TIME blogger Nate Jones calls it hysteria:

If you are a Muslim in America, be warned: apparently now even the very fact that you exist is offensive to people on September 11th.

The recurring insinuation is that Muslims in America aren’t American. Recall the WGBH-TV debate in which Rep. Stephen Lynch (who won Tuesday night’s Democratic primary in the 9th Congressional District) called them “they,” as excerpted here by Universal Hub:

“Respect and tolerance lives on a two-way street. I know a lot of those families who lost loved ones that day, I know a lot of firefighters who, their families, who perished that day and I just think it would be a huge win for the Imam to move that mosque and I would hope they would do that as a symbol for us and our fallen.

“They,” of course, are us.

What do you think? Should the Portland Press Herald have stood by its coverage — or was it insensitive? Leave your opinion — respectfully — in the comments.

Related Stories:

Wednesday Morning: Perry Vs. Keating; Lynch Survives

Published September 15, 2010

What’s news on a cool Wednesday morning in Boston, the morning after a tepid primary election:

Keating, Perry In The 10th; Lynch Survives In 9th

Democrat William Keating and Republican Jeffrey Perry will vie for the South Shore/Cape Cod seat, while 9th District incumbent Stephen Lynch won easily. (Globe)

Chang-Diaz Hangs On

State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz has defeated her primary opponent Hassan Williams in the Second Suffolk district, according to unofficial results gathered by the Reporter, which has correspondents with both campaigns tonight. Chang-Diaz faces a clear path to re-election in November. (Dorchester Reporter)

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate On WBZ Radio

The gubernatorial candidates were spared nomination battles on Tuesday, allowing them to engage in an unusual Primary Day debate and absorb the latest spate of negative ads. (WBZ)

Pilots, Flight Attendants Have Baggage

Hundreds of commercial and private U.S. pilots have been diagnosed and treated for a broad array of serious psychiatric and medical conditions, including schizophrenia, attempted suicide, sexual deviance, alcoholism and drug abuse, a Herald review has found. (Herald)

Affleck’s Relationship With Boston Is Complicated

“I’m not sure how Boston feels about me,’’ he says. “I do know that Boston is a place that — and I was the same way, living there — that likes to see itself reflected, likes its own, likes to see a reflection of its values.’’ (Globe)

What are you reading?