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Media coverage on Cape ISIS teen criticised

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Local media has come under increased scrutiny over the past week, in relation to its coverage of the 15-year old Cape Town girl who attempted to join the ranks of the Islamic State (IS). Despite information on the case still being limited, mainstream media has been accused of running away with speculation on how the teen may have been recruited, including suggesting the running of IS recruitment cells within SA.

The incident has also brought about criticism over the nature in which South African’s have used the comments section of top news websites, in order to express their view on the mater.

According to media commentator, Mohamed Saeed, this was part of a bigger issue in which locals have abused the comments sections of some news sites, making unfounded statements without consideration of the implications. He branded many of the comments as ‘utterly disgusting’, particularly when dealing with stories written or related to Muslims, or people of color in general.

“With all the education going around, we really need to think carefully on how we comment on such issues,” he stressed.

But he was even more critical of mainstream media’s coverage of the ‘ISIS teen’ story, especially in implying that the radical group may be operational and recruiting within the country. This was despite clear indications that she was in fact recruited after interactions via social media.

“The real issue was the internet. You will find many organizations recruit via the internet, even businesses recruit on the internet. So the media attention should have been focused on the recruiting via the internet,” he suggested.

Whilst the incident has brought about concerns that local teens may not be immune to the influences of the radical group, Saeed rejected suggestions of a crisis within the local Muslim community.

“The Muslim community, if you really look at it, is a really close nit community. With the daily interactions that we have in our masajid and schools, if IS or any other terrorist organization was a serious threat to us, we would pick it up,” he said.

Information on the incident has slowly flowed in since the news broke on Monday. But with media coverage having been quite detailed and speculative in its reports, Saeed said there was an urgent need more thorough investigation and interrogation before publishing such stories. Furthermore, the media need also look at why so many people were being enticed, and drawn towards the IS cause.

“The media needs to be focused on these issues, and not so much on the SA Muslims and whether terrorist bases are operational in South Africa,” he added.

The 15-year old Kenwyn teen was intercepted whilst boarding a flight from Cape Town to OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg; the first stop on a journey to Turkey. There she would likely have been smuggled over the border into neighboring Syria, where the radical group’s presence is most prominent. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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  1. i can understand the media's reporting style, she wasn't court just liasing with them, she wasn't caught just using social media, she was TAKEN OFF A PLANE , her decision had been made they had gotten to her , she was not deciding to act, the money was spent the deed was done, the fact is the WORLD thinks IS are terrorist, the MJC are having seminars briefing the Shujoog, they IS in this particular case where not trying, they had succeeded.She was leaving house and home for the ISIS course.

  2. Us and our denials. I agree with the comment above. I thought we muslims must at all times speak the truth, no matter how bitter.

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