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The Power of the Media

  Have you seen the Muslim editorial cartoons?   Well, there are 2 Muslims chasing after Muhammad at the point of the sword.  Muhammad says "Easy my friends, when it comes to the point. It is only a drawing made by a non-believing Dane." 
  Here is another one:  There are four or five Muslims standing in a line to enter heaven. Then the prophet Muhammad cries out to them, 'Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins!'  In the first cartoon, the cartoonist's intention is to persuade Muslims that the cartoon is just a cartoon.  The latter mocks Muslim beliefs, by suggesting that anyone who commits suicide for their religion will get a virgin in heaven.  These cartoons are part of 12 muslim cartoons describing 'Muhammad face'by European editorial cartoonists.
  The Muslim cartoons were first published in the Denmark daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. These were then published in a Norway daily newspaper. But the cartoons roused Muslim antipathy, so the Jyllands-Posten' editor apologized. On Feb.1, European newspapers in France, German, Italy and Spain published the Muslim cartoons, asserting freedom of speech. France's major newspaper, Le Monde, published a critical cartoon saying "I can't describe Muhammad."
  In response to the European newspapers?attitude about the cartoons, Muslims set the Denmark and Norway Embassies on fire in Syria and Lebanon, and Denmark and Norway's soldiers were attacked by Afghan demonstrators, some of whom were shoot dead by police.  Iran has cut trade with Denmark and attacked its embassy.  An Indian and Muslim minister have offered gold to whoever kills the cartoonists.
The European media claimed "Freedom Of Speech."  But Korea's media was more understanding of Muslim sensitivities.
  According to the Koran, the image of Muhammad cannot be depicted. "The cartoonists broke this rule by depicting his figure humorously.  And they even mocked the Islamic religion," said Lee Ju-hwa, Vice director of Korea Muslim Federation.
  There are those in the mass media who say that we have to understand Muslim culture before we can understand this event.  Moreover, we should not be quick to criticize muslim's irrational reaction.
  However, European newspapers insist that it is freedom of speech.
  "I wonder why a Dane needed to criticize Muslim doctrine?" said  Professor Jang Ha-yong, in the Dept. of Communication in Dongguk University.  The international media doesn't focus on Muslim doctrine, but it does focus on terrorists.
  A poor young couple's wedding in the Seoul Metro is an example of the great impact of the media on our society.  One netizen recorded it on his cell phone and updated it on his blog, personal homepage, which rapidly spread on the Internet.  Many people were touched and wanted to financially support the young couple. The influential media continuously reported this event without confirmation.  When the wedding was revealed as a play, KBS and Ohmynews made a public apology.  However, most of the media criticized the students who presented the play, saying they made a mistake because they didn't inform the public about their intention.  Therefore, some netizens criticized the students' action.  Then there was criticism of the media for broadcasting such non-news without confirmation.
  The Muhammad cartoons and poor young couple's wedding in the subway are different in some ways, one is about freedom of speech and the other is about confirming research.
  But when the media covered the Muslim cartoons, they focused on freedom of speech.  They did the same thing with the poor young couple's wedding in the subway, criticizing the students' mistake.  The press needs to report both sides of events and take a neutral position.
  "The media have great power and therefore, great responsibility.  'Freedom of speech' needs to be protected, but the media must be responsible, too,"said  Prof. Jang.

Yun Seul-ki  Cecilia@dongguk.edu

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