Foreign Policy Blogs

Op-Ed: Why does the American media ignore the desecration of Hindu gods in Bangladesh?

According to the World Hindu Struggle Committee, ahead of the Hindu Durga Puja holiday, over 20 Durga Pratima idols were vandalized in different areas of Bangladesh.  However, there has been a total media blackout on this news.  Not a single newspaper in English has covered the desecration of over 20 gods ahead of a Hindu festival in Bangladesh.  The question is, why?

When a Brooklyn synagogue was vandalized over Rosh Hashanah, it received widespread coverage in both the Jewish and American media.   When another LA synagogue suffered from similar anti-Semitic vandalism on September 11, it was widely covered by both the Jewish and American media.   And when a Colorado mosque was vandalized, it was all over the American media.  However, when Hindu gods are vandalized in Bangladesh ahead of a Hindu festival, the American media is silent.

It could be that most Americans care more about what happens in North America than what takes place abroad and the media coverage reflects this bias.  Indeed, far too many average Americans likely cannot find Bangladesh on a map, let alone know anything about the country.  However, the American media did widely cover the desecration of churches in France and across Europe despite their North American bias.  

But the American media barely covered the fact that the Turkish government submerged a 12,000-year-old city that contained thousands of caves, churches and tombs underwater in order to build a dam.  Furthermore, when Strasbourg’s Old Synagogue Memorial was vandalized, the American media did not have much to say about it.  They essentially ignored it, just as they ignore the plight of Hindu places of worship in Bangladesh.  In fact, when a Hindu temple was vandalized in Kentucky, it did not get the same level of media exposure had the target of the hate crime been Christian, Muslim or Jewish, even though the incident clearly took place in North America.

Does this mean that the American media is systematically biased against Hindus?   It is important to ponder this possibility.  However, we must also note that when a Hindu temple was vandalized in Pakistan last month, it did receive some coverage from the American media.  This leaves one to ponder why the American media cares when a Hindu holy site is vandalized in Pakistan but not Bangladesh.    The reasoning for this is likely geopolitical.  Trump is hoping that he can mediate an understanding between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.  If Hindus are targeted in Pakistan, then this potentially can interfere with that political objective and for that reason, the US cares. 

However, the US does not have such a geopolitical interest regarding Bangladesh.  US President Donald Trump considers the Sheikh Hasina government to be an ally, whose interests don’t clash with any other alliance.  For that reason, the US government turns a blind eye to what is happening on the ground in Bangladesh and the systematic minority rights abuses occurring there.   When the American population views the world via a certain bias, in light of the US governmental bias, this leads to the American media creating a news blackout on the issue.   

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. For 7 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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