Globe and Mail’s new factoid: Iran is not located in the Middle East

Here is a media inquiry I’ve sent to the Globe & Mail on February 7, 2020.

Dakshana Bascaramurty, national news reporter for The Globe and Mail who writes about race and ethnicity dbascaramurty@globeandmail.com

Sylvia Stead, The Globe and Mail’s Public Editor publiceditor@globeandmail.com

Globe and Mail’s new factoid: Iran is not located in the Middle East

Background

On February 6, 2020 the Globe and Mail publish an article titled “‘Hi, my name is Mohammed. I’m here to help you.’ Meet the unofficial crisis manager for Muslim Canadians.”

The article was written by Dakshana Bascaramurty, “a national news reporter for The Globe and Mail who writes about race and ethnicity.”

Here is an excerpt from Dakshana Bascaramurty’s article:

“Mohammed Hashim hoped it wasn’t terrorism, but that’s where his thoughts naturally went. He heard a van had mounted the sidewalk at a busy intersection in Toronto and driven for several blocks, killing and injuring people. There was no time to watch this news unfold online like everyone else – he had work to do.

No one knew the identity of the driver but it didn’t take long for the labels “Middle Eastern” and “jihadist” to spread on Twitter.

He coached prominent Muslims on what to say when journalists called. “Well, this is clearly a deviation from our faith,” was a favourite line in situations like this. Mr. Hashim loved the word “deviant” – it clearly and strongly communicated that this person was not following the teachings of Islam.

He reached out to contacts at City Hall to find out when and where the mayor would be giving a news conference, so he could send a few Muslims to the same place. If the attacker was confirmed to be a follower of Islam, it was important for viewers to think of the Muslims they saw on TV, along with the mayor, as “us” rather than “them.”

Finally, he helped the Council of Imams draft a statement condemning every aspect of the attack, which he was ready to release to every major news outlet in the country that evening. But he never hit send. He didn’t have to. Four hours after the incident, the alleged attacker was identified as Alek Minassian, a Canadian-born man of mixed Armenian and Iranian ancestry. Not “Middle Eastern.” Not a “jihadist.” Not a Muslim.

The Globe and Mail reports that Alek Minassian is a Canadian-born man of “mixed Armenian and Iranian ancestry.” Iran is located in the Middle East bordering with Armenia. Big communities of Armenians are to be found in Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel (The Armenian Quarter is one of the four quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem).

The tweet that Dakshana Bascaramurty refer to in her article read:

#BREAKING Witness to truck ramming into pedestrians tells local Toronto TV station that the driver looked wide-eyed, angry and Middle Eastern.

Interviewed by CP24, a witness described Alek Minassian’s appearance as “Middle Eastern.”

Questions

  • Why did the Globe and Mail suggest that the appearance of a man of mixed Armenian and Iranian ancestry cannot be described as Middle Eastern by an eye witness?
  • Why does the Globe and Mail adopt the premise that Middle Eastern describes by default Muslim?
  • How would the Globe and Mail describe Alek Minassian based on his appearance and family origin?

Please respond by 1pm February 10, 2020.

Sincerely,

Eric Stanley Brazau

Investigative Journalist

EricBrazau.com

Note: As of February 10, 2020 the Globe & Mail has not yet responded to the media inquiry.

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