Road to May 13 Mob Attacks – Role of the Media

Staff Writer | Author . පරිවර්තනය කරන්න සිංහල හෝ தமிழ் 27. 05. 2019 | 1.15am
Road to May 13 Mob Attacks – Role of the Media

Its been a month after the Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka and we should discuss about ‘Behavior of Sri Lankan Media Institutes after the Easter Bomb Attacks’.The attack was done when the government was fully informed.But the government did nothing to protect civilians from the attacks.Many articles were written about the pre-attack intels and the government failures.

But no one wrote about the Misbehavior of the Media institutions after the Easter Attacks.Media is considered as the Fourth Government in a country.Media can make a huge impact in a incident like this,good or bad.They can either make a fire or extinguish a fire.But after the easter terror only few tried to extinguish the fire arose among Sri Lankans.

Media institutions in Sri Lanka didn’t report about the protests came from Muslim community against Zaharan and his National Thawuheeth Jamath.Complaints were made by Muslims against Zaharan since 2014.But these facts were not unveiled by the Sri Lankan government or media.

Senior journalist N.M Ameen and a group complained about Zaharan’s exremist works after the Mawanella incident.There were some complaints from the Muslim community from 2014 to 2019.

Many raids after the Easter Attack was done over intels came from Muslims. But so called ‘respectable’ media institutions didn’t reported them with details.Instead they always reported ‘.... found near a mosque” “Bullets found near a Muslim house’ and so on.In some instances there were no mosques where the arms found.But media always used headings such as ‘....near mosques’,‘...near a Muslim house’.

Specially should mention about an unacceptable act of few TV channels that happened after a press conference called by some Muslim organizations.Few TV channels broadcasted an edited video of a speech made by Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum president senior journalist N.M Ameen, misleading Sinhalese community.These 3rd class activity was done by some media institutions who call themselves as Number One.This is a sad tragedy in the Sri Lankan Media field.

What Mr.Ameen said at the media conference was “President has said that Swords were for the security of girls”.He made that statement quoting Sri Lankan President Maithreepala Sirisena.But media channels reported as “N.M Ameen Said that Swords were for the security of girls“ distorting the full speech by cutting and editing the whole speech.

Most important thing is,this was corrected via controversial ‘Facebook’ which the government block even in a tiny incident. This would never be corrected if there was no facebook.

“Some incidents occurred within past few weeks.Swords were found in few mosques over 1000 of raids.Investigations are on the move regarding these cases.Muslim community request to punish all the guilty. President has told the IGP that every house has a sword for the protection of girls as a custom and the arrests are unfair.

We did not held any funeral rituals for the died adults(Sainthamaruthu) in our mosques ,on our religious leader’s advices. This is a lesson for our youngers. If You joined these organizations, We don’t let your funerals to be done in our mosques. We have given that message to them. We don’t accept these as Muslims, not even in the future. So give this message to the people. Today our country has faced a sad tragedy. So please use your media to give this message. This is a request from whole Muslims.” Mr. Ameen said.

This statement show the disapproval of extremism and terrorism within the Muslim community to some extent. But relevant Media channels make this statement upside down. This led to make an Anti-Ameen and Anti-Muslim protests via social platforms. But after releasing of an unedited footage of the Ameen’s statement, this protest was controlled up to some level. This is a disadvantage of blocking social media platforms. There is an ability to correct such fake news streamed by Sri Lankan main media institutions.

Distrust among people increased after the government advised media not to publish images and videos of captured weopons.People started to think that government is trying to hide something.As a government they should’ve inform media institutions not to make these missions ‘ a media pageant’

And media has a responsibility not to make people panic. They should’ve report these incidents in a controlled manner.

As Army Commander said, when security forces found some empty bullet coverings, media described them as a huge threat. So civilians who haven’t much military knowledge got panic by these irresponsible reporting.

Media institutions in a country should act very responsibly .They should extinguish fires and should not help to make fires. Our country will face such incidents until they understand this simple fact.

According to the country’s law ,an individual is only a suspect until the court make its decision. As of Media ethics, media should not mention the suspect’s information until he or she introduced to the court. But Its totally different in this case. They reported names and information of suspects as soon as arrested. No one will be guilty as they got arrested. Investigations should confirm that they are guilty as charged and should be proved in the court.

Many Muslims faced this injustice who were arrested within past few weeks. Some suspects were released who was arrested on misinformation. But media didn’t report about these released suspects. But when they were getting arrested, media gave a full publicity making the innocents criminals.

A educational director was arrested on suspicion of a ISIS connection.Police said before that he had letters in connection to ISIS organization.But later police released the relevant director.Reports said that he has written anti-ISIS letters to the newspapers.Its likely police arrested him after seeing the word isis on his articles without a further reading. But the media publicity was not given in his release as much as the media publicity given in his arrest.

The behavior of foreign media is totally different from this. In the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand foreign media didn’t broadcasted any video of the shooting or dead bodies. But in Easter bombings, some SL media channels broadcasted footages of dead bodies and screaming of the victims.

Media is also responsible for the mobs attacks on Muslims mosques and other places. That’s true there was a huge government and political activity beyond these incidents. Social media block led extremists to easily spread their fake news. Government always tried to block people’s right to information. Through this government made a platform for extremists to spread their hate speech. May 13 incident occurred as a result of this. Irresponsible media behavior and Political propaganda is at the top of this incident.

At least 1000 mosques were searched by security forces.Swords and knives were found in two or three mosques.But as media reported,people started to think that every mosque has swords and knives.

Spreading of racism via media led people to May 13 attack. Media inserted hate in to the people who suffered the easter terror.Finaly a innocent Muslim person paid the price by his life and many properties of Muslim community destroyed.

There should be a broad discussion within the public to urge media institutions to do the media possession in a correct way.