September 21, 2012

Given the enormous stakes involved regarding our relations with the Muslim world, is hyperbole really what The Post thinks is needed? The Sept. 15 front-page article “Muslim fury at U.S. spreads” reported that “the Muslim world erupted in protests aimed at the United States.” However, of the 22 countries that either consider themselves to be Islamic nations or recognize Islam as the state religion, the writers list only half as being the site of protests. What’s more, in a world with 1.6 billion Muslims, the article speaks of “the thousands of demonstrators.”

Those thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets because they erroneously believe that the United States, not misguided individuals, is responsible for the current trouble. The Post should avoid having its readers make similar errors.

Gregory Adams, Washington

The Sept. 15 article “As Arab world evolves, U.S. pursues uneasy alignments” stated that the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans demonstrated “how short-lived the gratitude toward the United States lasted” for our support in Libyans’ revolution against Moammar Gaddafi.

Taking the actions of the band of gunmen that carried out the Libya attack as representative of the sentiments of the people of Benghazi or Libya is as misguided as the attitudes that have led protesters across the Arab world to attack U.S. facilities in retaliation for the twisted views of a few individuals who posted an offensive video online.

In my work, I have been inundated with letters of solidarity and support from Libyans who are outraged by the actions of a few. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll shows that Libyans have a higher opinion of the United States than does any other country in the Arab world.

At times like these, we must guard against taking the actions of the few to represent the views of the whole.

Shane Perkinson, Washington

The writer is a program manager for Libya with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives.

The Sept. 14 front-page article “More protests erupt in Muslim world” referred to the now-notorious anti-Muslim video as “American-made.” This was also done in the photo caption.

That is a very bad and misleading choice of words. Referring to this video as “American-made” disparages Americans and encourages misunderstanding.

It would be more accurate to say that it was made by a person in the United States (assuming it actually was). Journalists ought to be precise about this.

Daniel Neal, Chevy Chase

The Sept. 16 Sunday Opinion commentary by Ahmed Salah, “Help us resist the extremists,” reported, as have other media reports of the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, that a U.S. flag was torn down and replaced by a black flag bearing the words “There is no god but Allah.” This translation from Arabic is incorrect, unfortunate and harmful. It should have been quoted as “There is no god but God.”

By leaving only the second instance of the word in Arabic, the “translated” text implies that Allah is a Muslim God, which is incorrect. Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. As adherents of the Abrahamic tradition, Muslims revere the same God as Christians and Jews.

Unfortunately, such reporting and editing needlessly reinforce antagonism and division among adherents of different religions just at a time when greater understanding is needed. The phrase “There is no god but God” is the Islamic equivalent of “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” the first of the Ten Commandments.

Steve York, Takoma Park