Recently we had an internal debate on the merits and demerits of Amar Desh as a newspaper. My argument was that it’s news/editorial policy had a noticeable anti-Hindu stance to it.
Asked to gather evidence to support this, I did so unscientifically.
I went to google.com and searched the word হিন্দু for 3 newspaper sites – Amar Desh, Prothom Alo and Amader Shomoy.
The last two were for comparison in case it was my extra-thin PC skin that was to blame for taking offence at Amar Desh’s bucolic Bangali attitude towards minorities. The exact search terms in google were:
I only went up to page 4 for each. Results:
Amader Shomoy turned out gibberish. Lots of the same stories over and over. Plus, unrepeatable occurrences in the comments section. Tabloid at its best.
Prothom Alo gave me stories concerning arson on Hindu homes (a depressing number of these), hindu marriage bill act, ICT witness statements on how Hindu villages were pointed out to Pakistani army by Rajakars etc.
Amar Desh gave me 3 instances of “Hindu man insults Islam” type stories since last October. Now this is the sort of news that started off a riot in Ramu only a few months back, so I have to wonder at the motivation of a newspaper that runs this sort of story.
In addition, I also came across one that reported on the return of a Muslim girl who had been kidnapped by a Hindu man. This to me seems like a needless, gratuitous use of religious identity to report a crime
It reminded me of British tabloids at their worst. Every year there are instances of child abuse in the UK. But last year, disproportionate media attention was focussed on one particular case. Why? Because the victim was White and the accused were of Pakistani descent. Did their identity make them more of a criminal, make their crime more loathsome than if a White person had done it? It appeared so. Even Jack Straw weighed in from Westminster, asking “the community” to keep these men in line. Yes, a crime committed by Britons of all races had suddenly become a “community” problem!
Similarly I have to ask Amar Desh why they need to report on the religious identity of the kidnapper. Would the kidnapping have been any more acceptable to us as a nation if it had been a Muslim man? A crime is a crime no matter who commits it, and yet – Amar Desh needs to add in that it was a Hindu man. Why? What purpose does it achieve? Am I better informed as a reader about the motives of the criminal? Or am I supposed to draw some conclusion about the Hindu community?
None of which is to say that Amar Desh did not cover the recent spate attacks against the Hindu community – they did. They also covered Hindu marriage bill act, Hindu community leaders sending congratulations to Khaleda Zia, etc.
So what does this mean? Will I stop reading/linking to Amar Desh? I think it is highly unlikely for the time being because then I would lose coverage of the government’s failures which other media outlets – and by that I mean Daily Star and Prothom Alo – have steadfastly refused to cover.
We have media failure on a large scale. The communally neutral outlets like DS/PA have taken such a partisan approach to reporting the news that readers need to go to a communally-tainted outlet like Amar Desh to get the whole picture.