Back to the culturally biased rags

The good thing about being in Lebanon is that it’s always nice to come back to seeing stuff like this printed on the front page of Lebanese newspapers (here l’Orient le Jour):

Here’s the caption:

Lorsque tous les moyens sont vains, les villageois palestiniens n’ont plus que la prière pour montrer leur protestation face à l’impitoyable grignotage de leurs terrains par le mur de séparation érigé par Israël.

Rough translation: “When all has failed, the Palestinian villagers have nothing but prayer to show their protest against the horrible shrinking of their lands caused by the separation wall erected by Israel”.

1- Why from all pictures you could find on AFP’s website did L’Orient choose this one to put on its front page?

2- So you tell me, why can’t these people just be praying with no hidden meaning to it? Do they seriously think (the biased media) that these people are actually praying in the hope of changing the unjust state of their living?

This clearly exemplifies the deeply entrenched thought that religious phenomena, and other related ritualistic behavior are grounded in irrational beliefs/affect and that there is a clear opposition between these irrational manifestations and the proper scientific way of going about doing things (that is rational). This is the biggest misconception of what we call today “modernity”.

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5 Replies to “Back to the culturally biased rags”

  1. Bech, reports are that the prayer was an organised action in protest against the building of the Apartheid Wall in Umm Salamona.

  2. Well, your post reads like l’Orient le Jour was speculating about the reason for prayer, when in fact it was a deliberate action against the building of the wall.

    You ask, “So you tell me, why can’t these people just be praying with no hidden meaning to it? Do they seriously think (the biased media) that these people are actually praying in the hope of changing the unjust state of their living?”.

    The answer would seem to be yes if reports are correct. It could be prayer as protest, the non-violent type favoured by victors who write about the vanquished.

    I’m not arguing your point about modernity and the constructed divide between the rational and irrational, nor the dubious selection of this news item & pic for the front page falling within this context. But this doesn’t change the fact that the prayer was a protest action and not just a random picture impregnated with a face value meaning by the news media.

  3. Yes it’s true but this does not contradict what I am saying. The prayer surely happened for a reason and this why I insist that it is based on a rational mode of conduct, and you did well of pointing it out.

    But read the newspaper’s caption again. The crucial thing to remember from it, and that makes it biased is the link they try to establish between desperation and prayer.

    Meaning that for the rag, the prayer happened because Palestinians have no other choice than to pray, having exhausted all other possibilities.

    But in reality the prayer happened for very precise social reasons as it groups people together to voice discontent (as you said).

  4. so in brief linking desperation to this protest prayer suggests that these people have ‘lost it’, and thus is put on the front page of the newspaper.

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