Misleading, duplicitous, and cowardly reporting by the Guardian of ISIS’s statement on the Paris attacks

In a comment on my post about the Parisian terrorist murders, Reader Arslan noted a discrepancy between ISIS’s statement claiming responsibility for those murders, and what the Guardian said about ISIS’s statements. Now perhaps this is just an error by the Guardian: maybe they left out a sentence by mistake. But given the sentence that was left out, I don’t think it’s am omission on the part of the Guardian. Rather, I think it’s duplicitous and cowardly reporting. It’s also unethical since they left out part of the ISIS statement without including ellipses.

First, here’s ISIS’s statement of responsibility that can be seen at Vox. I show it in its entirety, and I put the bit in bold to compare to how the Guardian reported it (also in bold):


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent

Allah (ta’ala) said, They thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah but Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and He cast terror into their hearts so they destroyed their houses by their own hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O people of vision [Al-Hashr:2].

In a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah, a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate (may Allah strengthen and support it) set out targeting the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe — Paris. This group of believers were youth who divorced the worldly life and advanced towards their enemy hoping to be killed for Allah’s sake, doing so in support of His religion, His Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him), and His allies. They did so in spite of His enemies. Thus, they were truthful with Allah — we consider them so — and Allah granted victory upon their hands and cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland.

And so eight brothers equipped with explosive belts and assault rifles attacked precisely chosen targets in the center of the capital of France. These targets included the Stade de France stadium during a soccer match — between the teams of Germany and France, both of which are crusader nations — attended by the imbecile of France (Francois Hollande). The targets included the Bataclan theatre for exhibitions, where hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice. There were also simultaneous attacks on other targets in the tenth, eleventh, and eighteenth districts, and elsewhere. Paris was thereby shaken beneath the crusaders’ feet, who were constricted by its streets. The result of the attacks was the deaths of no less than two hundred crusaders and the wounding of even more. All praise, grace, and favor belong to Allah.

Allah blessed our brothers and granted them what they desired. They detonated their explosive belts in the masses of the disbelievers after finishing all their ammunition. We ask Allah to accept them amongst the martyrs and to allow us to follow them.

Let France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake in the crusader campaign, as long as they dare to curse our Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), and as long as they boast about their war against Islam in France and their strikes against Muslims in the lands of the Caliphate with their jets, which were of no avail to them in the filthy streets and alleys of Paris. Indeed, this is just the beginning. It is also a warning for any who wish to take heed.

Allah is the greatest.

(And to Allah belongs all honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know) [Al-Munafiqun: 8].

By the way, can you read this and say that the Paris attacks had nothing to do with faith? If I bolded every reference to Islam in the above, it would almost all be in bold!

And here’s the Guardian’s report on that statement. Compare the bolded part below with that above:

Isis said it had dispatched eight jihadi – leaving open the possibility that one may still be on the run – wearing suicide bomb belts and carrying machine guns, across the French capital on Friday night in a “blessed attack on … crusader France”.

The “carefully selected” sites and coordinated nature of the attacks were intended, it said, to show that France would remain one of its main targets as long as its present policies continue.

France and those who follow her voice must know that they remain the main target of Islamic State and that they will continue to smell the odour of death for having led the crusade, for having boasted of fighting Islam in France and striking Muslims in the caliphate with their planes,” the group said in a statement.

What happened to the bit about cursing Muhammad??


  1. frankschmidtmissouri
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    He’s not worth cursing.

  2. Sastra
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Good catch. By leaving out not just the rest of the statement, but the bit about “cursing the Prophet,” the Guardian makes it sound as if the terrorist attacks will STOP if everyone else stops attacking Muslim nations with their military. There’s a simple and easy political solution.


    • Adam M.
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      ISIS might even stop (until they’ve met their goals in the middle east and turn their eyes outward). Demands with threats are no good if you’re going to carry out the threat even if the demand is met.

      I’ll note that France’s immediate response to the attack was to do 20-30 more airstrikes in Syria, in effect saying “We won’t stop attacking you in Syria.” If I was ISIS, I would say “Then we won’t stop attacking you in France.” I’d bet they’re planning the next attack already.

      Is that what France really wants? Is a largely ineffectual bombing campaign worth it? Western countries should either do something that’s actually effective or stop poking the hornet’s nest, in my opinion…

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Given some of my earlier post on the subject, you won@t be surprised to learn that I think the squads and equipment are already in place for the second and third waves of attacks. Though whether they’ll be in France, Europe, or America, I’m not so sure.
        When … shortly after the panic dies down and some semblence of normality resumes.
        Well, my 2 cents worth.

      • Filippo
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        “Western countries should either do something that’s actually effective or stop poking the hornet’s nest, in my opinion…”

        Would you care to offer a specific, positive recommendation?

        Would you agree that these hornet nests have been in Europe for a good while?

  3. Dermot C
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s Groundhog Day at the Grauniad: there is even something rather boring about the predictability of the reactions to 13/11. We know what the regressive leftists will write and who they are.

    2 dawn-rays in this midnight in the century: Asra Nomani’s luminous appearance on Bill Maher the other night. And I think I’m persuading an old pal who thought Corbyn was the bee’s proverbials about the left’s abandonment of its core principles when it comes to Islam.
    An excellent article here, which he ‘liked’. x


    • gluonspring
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      That’s an excellent piece.

    • S.K.Graham
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      I would say that the far left has *not* abandoned its core principles when it comes to Islam.

      Instead, they *reveal* their core principal, to wit,

      White Male-Dominated European Imperialism is the Source Of All Evil.

      • Dermot C
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I disagree, S.K.Graham, and so did Marx. x


      • rickflick
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like you’re spouting more postmodernism.

        • Dermot C
          Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          ‘Sounds like you’re spouting more postmodernism.’

          I don’t understand this, rickflick: what does it refer to? x

          • rickflick
            Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

            S.K.Graham: “White Male-Dominated European Imperialism is the Source Of All Evil.”

            This attitude held by the left today probably comes from cultural relativism which had roots in postmodernism.

            • Dermot C
              Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

              Ah, I see, rickflick. An anecdotal reply. When I left university in the early eighties, all this multiculturalist ideology was just really kicking in. I remember thinking, as a Marxist then, ‘hang on, this ain’t right’ in some inchoate way, because certain cultural practices aren’t left-wing or progressive or whatever term we used then. Even though the ideas were generated almost from the ether rather than by any particular academic, it was the soft liberal left who initially took it up.

              At that time what we now call the far left, among whom I was one, explicitly opposed multiculturalism: we pointed out the triple oppression of Muslim women in Britain. By their sex, by their class and particularly by their religion.

              So to claim now that the regressive left was born from 80s Marxism is not true and I am not convinced that it derives from post-modernism: it spread initially among the soft left and now it is an article of faith of the far and conspiracist left. Like Corbyn, Andrew Fisher, Greenwald.

              The meme is taking shape that Marxism has always refused to criticize foreign ideologies à la Chomsky and Pilger: no, some Marxists do that – specifically non-Russian Stalinists for most of the 20th century. But the multiculturalist ideology which developed into leftist self-censorship and eventually apologia for foreign and native Islamism was born, I think, in moon-faced liberalism. x

    • rickflick
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      The article points to a key factor in what seems like the paradoxical position of the left:

      “For at least 20 years Left wing students across the land have been immersed in cultural relativism and the belief that the primary aim of the Left is to defend other people’s beliefs.”

      This relativism is a result of all that postmodern bullshit I thought we had almost gotten over. I guess we haven’t.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I think that’s right. Relativism lies at the heart of the illiberal left – it’s what motivates identity politics, it’s what motivates the well-meaning but ethically handcuffed policy of multiculturalism, it fires the illiberal left’s unrivalled passion for what-about-ery…

        Maybe, just maybe, it’s time that the rest of the left and the centre-left just realised what a pointless dead weight they’re dealing with here – the illiberal-left is loud and frequently sanctimonious, but it’s quite possible that their stock in the real world has never been lower. They do nothing, their campaigns and ‘policies’ have ossified into dogma a long time ago and their great white hope in my country is Corbyn, not the demon of the tabloid press but nevertheless the textbook definition of a ‘useful idiot’.

        What have they done that merits attention in recent times? They have mutated into bunch of ethically-confused contrarians, who’ve spent the last three days sneering at Parisians because those Parisians weren’t sufficiently upset about the deaths in Beirut. They were peddling conspiracy theories about western orchestration and ‘inside jobs’ as the Paris killings were still going on, and tweeting bilious little ‘I-told-you-sos’ within hours. And yet they take themselves seriously as a genuine political force?

        A genuine political force does things – it compromises, because the real world requires it, it makes hard choices, because the real world requires it. It doesn’t sit on the sidelines, intentionally impotent, for fear of testing its fatuous, monochrome politics against the rigours of the real world(and it’s telling that when it does, in the case of Corbyn, it’s a trainwreck of hypocrisy and pacific pointlessness).

        There’s a strong case to be made that the illiberal left are not a political force and shouldn’t be regarded as one. They’re a bunch of halo-polishing reactionaries who refuse to deal with the real world and they should be treated as such. If they want to be taken seriously they should be pushed on what they would do, how they would do it…why aren’t they trying to do it right now? None of these questions even occur to them because they’re not involved in a positive political movement – they’re instead involved in perpetual opposition. They oppose everything and propose nothing.

        If they refuse to answer genuine questions about positive, real world policy and campaigning, and retreat to their house on the hill to sneer and fire ink-blots at all those awful westerners and their scum politicians and the biased media and the grand CIA-Zionist-capitalist superstructure, then they should be left there until they decide to grow the fuck up.

        The chances of any of this happening are pretty much non-existent of course, but the hard-left/illiberal-left/regressive-left, whatever they’re called, have been given, and have given themselves, an incredibly easy ride over the last decade or so. They’ve had to answer no hard questions, they’ve had to make no real political decisions, they’ve not lived in the real world at all. What is the point of them?

        Apologies for the length Rick…you really didn’t deserve to have all that dumped on you 😉

        • Dermot C
          Posted November 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          Entertaining as usual, Saul. On the Corbynite left’s impracticality and refusal to engage with the real world (I saw one commentator describe his refusal to sanction shoot-to-kill under any circumstances as ‘narcissism’ – a perfect description,I thought).

          Anyway, before all this shoot-to-kill mullarkey blew up, there was the bring-Jihadi-John-to-trial reaction by our very own Chauncey Gardiner. Before Paris 13/11, I asked a Corbynite this:

          ‘Explain how you would have got hold of Emwazi and repatriated him. Would you have used the SAS? How would you have got them into Raqqa? What would your orders have been if, when they encountered Emwazi, they were in direct danger, he was clothed and could have had an explosive suicide belt on? Would you have ordered to shoot to kill? If not, what would have been your explanation to Parliament for the needless death of British soldiers? What would your get-out-of-Raqqa strategy have been?

          I assume you who wanted Emwazi before a court of law have considered all of this and more: if not, then you should have.’

          He didn’t reply. x

          • Dermot C
            Posted November 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            Ooh, Labour MPs are openly revolting against Corbyn: it could be the start of the end-game for him. x


            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

              We kept hearing Corbynites saying things like ‘the public loves an underdog’ from the outset – now it’s mutated into claims that he’s being bullied. ‘The British people stand up against bullies’ someone said on Question Time. Well, yes, in our better moments(when we’re not waddling backwards, bowing and scraping, as the Chinese president red carpets it into no. 10) we do – but I hope we don’t vote the victim into political power on that basis.

              I hate bullies as much as anyone but the fact that this kind of language is being used about Corbyn says something about how the public see him. Even Ed Miliband wasn’t ‘bullied’ – he was ‘unfairly attacked’ or ‘demonised’ but never ‘bullied’.
              The public’s no longer simply sympathetic. They actually pity him now. It’s not a good look.

              I hope, for the sake of a credible alternative to the tories, that you’re right and Corbyn goes.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

                @Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:32

                Corbyn would probably make a fair crack at being a Primary School Headteacher. OFSTED would praise the kids for their manners but put the school in Special Measures for its Religious Studies Curriculum.

                (Before any teachers are offended, I’m one ‘n’ all.) x

          • aljones909
            Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

            I’ve seen the “he should have been brought to trial” fantasy repeated a lot. Supremely dumb. Corbyn is resembling a dithering, out of touch, Trotskyist pensioner. Sorry. He IS a dithering, out of touch, Trotskyist pensioner.

            • Dermot C
              Posted November 17, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

              Trotsky would have eviscerated Corbyn on this. Corbyn’s a pacifist: Trotsky was Head of the Red Army. Apples and pears. x

        • rickflick
          Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          Length is no problem. It’s a breath of fresh air (or maybe several breaths of fresh air).

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            I’m English. We’re taught to say sorry for everything from an early age, for which I apologise profusely.

            • rickflick
              Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

              I was born in Canada. So, sorry about that, eh?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted November 18, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

                You have to pronounce it “sore-y”. That’s how we talk in the Great White North!

              • rickflick
                Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

                It’s been quite some time. I’m afraid I’ve lost many nuances of the dialect. But when I hear it, chills go up my spine like a puck skimming the ice.

  4. Benjamin
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    It hardly needs to be said, but of course it was left out because it doesn’t fit in with their narrative.

    The narrative being that Islam (or indeed any religion) never causes its adherents to behave badly, and that all extremism, violence, oppression, cruelty, homophobia, misogyny etc. is the result of a) western imperialism and/or b) the socio-economic problems of Muslims living in the west.

  5. colnago80
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Not at all surprising, these are the people that bad mouth Sam Harris for having the temerity to criticize Islam.

  6. Randy Schenck
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Shameful journalism by the Guardian to match shameful politics by the republicans in the USA today as they attempt to shut down taking any and all refugees from Syria “for our safety” of course. Not shameful really – just cowardly bastards.

    • eric
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      One GOP state senator in Texas is freaking out right now because he just realized that the state’s lax gun control laws means Syrians granted asylum could immediately arm themselves with all sorts of weapons. Which is true. His proposed solution is not to tighten gun laws (perish the thought!) but rather basically to create a second-class citizenship status for immigrants (read: brown people) so they can’t have the same gun ownership rights as real Americans (read: white people).

      Its actually kind of funny in a sick way. The GOP equivalent of unstoppable force vs. immovable object: what happens when bigotry against even legal immigrants meets dedication to the second amendment?

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Nice, of course the total number of Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S. in the past 3 or 4 years is something like 2200. So how many would Tx. even have for him to panic about – maybe 40. Talk about paranoid senator.

        And surely a few poor refugees would immediately run down to the corner gun shop (there may be one on every corner now for convenience) to purchase massive amounts of guns. One gun would be two or three years salary for a refugee. It scares me just talking about it.

      • Warren Johnson
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Who is this republican legislator? Where did your info come from?

  7. W.Benson
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Can’t trust MSM on much of anything, can you.

  8. Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think their duplicitousness will catch up with them. #regressiveleft was a trending hashtag on Tw**ter yesterday. Social media seems to find the standard apologetics markedly less palatable this time around. A reaction to recent campus conundrums perhaps?

  9. Scientifik
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    News reporting is a complete mess today. There’s basically zero objectivity. And intentional manipulation is rampant.

    The upshot is that the readers of news websites like The Guardian, The Telegraph, Independent, etc are constantly being fed misleading information, and thus can’t form their own opinions based on facts.

    • Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      I could not agree more.

    • Posted November 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      But what unbiased choices are there?

      • Scientifik
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        As far as I can tell, there are none.

        In this situation, one is forced to look at many news sources simultaneously (from the left, center, to the right) to get a more accurate view of current events.

        • Jeffery
          Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink

          So far as the media goes, I don’t think the situation is much different than it has been for years where biased reporting is concerned: even Faux New’s nasty tactic of relentless, biased propaganda are really nothing compared to what papers used to print back in the early 1900s. I think what the deciding difference is today is the internet: it gives us a way to, “examine our examining” far more quickly and thoroughly than ever before and, while it often produces artificial trends and “pseudo-stories” in doing so, the tendency is toward the growing apprehension of many, many inconvenient truths.

  10. Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    That statement is a declaration of war against France by the ruling government of Iraq.

    Can anybody imagine a similar distortion of Nazi Germany’s declaration of war against the US?


    • Filippo
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Churchill, upon hearing that the U.S. had declared war, recorded, “I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and the thankful.”

  11. Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Too many think-pieces in the liberal media denying that this attack had anything to do with Islam at all.
    I have resisted commenting online in the likes of Salon and HuffPo, as it just makes me angry.

    • Scientifik
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Subjective opinion pieces are one thing, but when a political agenda creeps into news reporting and leads to distortion of basic facts, it’s a whole new level of duplicity.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Well in this specific case you can’t accuse the Guardian of that, since their quote mentions Islamic State and Islam.


    • Posted November 18, 2015 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Not just the liberal media. David Cameron has just said precisely this in the House of Commons in response to a question from Corbyn.
      It seems that the entire UK political class actually believes that Islamic state has “nothing to do” with Islam.
      Clearly this explains the flood of Quakers, Anglicans, Jains and Jedis who are flocking to Syria to fight for ISIS (sorry “so- called” ISIS)

      • rickflick
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        “so- called” ISIS…
        I’m beginning to prefer DAESH. Obama is using it now.

  12. Michael
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Conspiracy or cock-up?
    Was the ISIS statement originally in English? If so why are the two extracts so different?If not, who did the translations that each group used?

    • gluonspring
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that too. Of course, cock-ups are more likely to happen when your mind wants a particular outcome. You just don’t see or hear what you don’t already expect.

    • Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      The n ewspaper version read like a précis that was subsequently miss set as a direct quotation. Or like somebody had phoned it in (and maybe unintentionally elided the bit about Mo?), which might account for the variant translation.


  13. Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    There is no hope of effecting a solution to the problem of religiously instigated terrorism as long as we keep telling the people of that religion that the teachings within their belief systems aren’t significantly to blame.

  14. Jay
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    France’ problem, unfortunately common to several other EU states.


    • Diane G.
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Embarrassed to say I hadn’t realized that a tenth of France’s population is Muslim.

  15. Dick Veldkamp
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr Coyne,

    I think you are making too much of this – from the piece you cite, it seems to me that the Guardian just gives the most important part of the ISIS statement. It’s a bit like a news bulletin would say something like “Obama said that ISIS must be destroyed” – leaving out the rest of the White House press release.

    I am not saying that the Guardian’s reporting is always flawless – but faulting them for this particular summary seems a bit over the top to me.

    • Filippo
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Did The Guardian provide a link to the full statement?

      I’d just as soon read the original source as some media type’s rendering of it.

    • noncarborundum
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      I disagree. There’s a difference between a summary such as you mention and a direct quotation. The Guardian put that section of ISIS’s statement in quotation marks, so it should be word for word what ISIS said (vagaries of translation aside, if the statement was issued in another language). Deviations from the original wording – which would include the omission of entire clauses, as here – should be indicated.

      Sadly it seems that this principle, which seems so clear to me, is not always understood by people in the newspaper business. I once had a letter to the editor of the NY Times edited by a Times staffer in such a way as to put into quotation marks a phrase that had not actually appeared in the article I was responding to. I pointed out that the phrase was not a direct quote and therefore shouldn’t be framed as such, and they relented. But it surprised me that they tried in the first place.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        It happens all the time in reporting. Quote marks just indicate a summary or paraphrase of what the subject said. Even where the words are accurate, they are often only a fraction of the complete statement, and hopefully the reportage hasn’t taken them out of context.

        Letters to the editor (as I found when I bothered to write such) are frequently shortened by leaving out paragraphs, which inevitably subtly changes the meaning, with any luck by not too great an extent.


  16. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    My dad spent the last thirty years illustrating political opinion pieces for the Guardian on a weekly basis – it was my default paper growing up as a know-nothing nominal liberal – but the way they’ve behaved with the Maajid Nawaz smearing, the Peter Oborne puff-pieces for Hizb’ut Tahrir and now this…

    But like someone said in another post where else can you go for sane, relatively objective opinion? It doesn’t matter who I read these days I feel like I have to run what they say through my political-dogma-filter-omatic.

    Maybe part of growing up is realising that you’ll never find a source that’s sufficiently objective that you can ever stop scanning it for political biases and just give yourself over to what it says.

    • Posted November 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Looking at multiple sources across the political spectrum, and internationally, gets you closer to the truth. Reading _Vox_ revealed _The Guardian_’s bias. And so on…

      With the internet, there’s no reason to rely on just one daily newspaper delivered to your door.


      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        I’d never heard of Vox – thanks for that. I flit between the Beeb, Harry’s Place, Futile Democracy, Butterflies And Wheels, Little Atoms, Left Foot Forward, The Grauniad, Indy, The Daily Beast and a whole load of other, variably reliable sources. I try to read Breitbart, Medialens, Socialist Unity, Fox as well. As much as I can stomach. None of these places are truly reliable. The phrase ‘eternal vigilance’ is appropriate when considering even a preferred news source…
        Like I said, I used to think I’d eventually find an information source reliable enough that I could just refer to it from then on, but sooner or later you realise that that’s a daft ambition. There are sites and blogs and papers that I trust more, much more, than others, but they’re all staffed by humans, who come and go, whose honesty can be corrupted, whose political bias can increase, diminish and shift focus.

  17. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Of course ISIS has claimed responsibility, but has there been any actual proof of their involvement and backing or are they just being opportunistic? It’s beginning to look as if the bomb on the Russian plane may not have been ISIS’ work, but there was a claim of responsibility there, too.

    Whatever the case turns out to be, US politicians, the right wingers in particular, are playing right into the narrative the terrorists want to create.

    • Filippo
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      In your opinion what narrative should one follow – what course of action should one take – in this matter?

  18. Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink


  19. Arslan
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    A cock-up is possible but very unlikely in this case. Here’s the French version (from the SITE website) of the ISIS release:


    Haven’t yet found any version other than the Guardian’s that leaves out the prophet part when directly quoting. More likely a well-intentioned (but dishonest) elision.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      And the statement was also issued in French. It’s not like it’s so foreign to English writers as to be easy to leave out a section.

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Nah. The Grauniad summarised ISIS’s rant to a fraction of its length. They also left out, for example, “Allah is the greatest”. In fact thye left out (for reasons of space) *most* of ISIS’s statement.

    Trying to second-guess meanings from the bits they left out is futile, IMO.


    • Arslan
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Once again, not a summary, a direct quote surrounded by quotation marks. Leaving out the rest of the paragraph is fine when summarizing, but not leaving out stuff within a direct quote without any ellipsis marks to indicate that something’s being excluded. This is basic stuff!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 17, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Basic stuff which is, I think, probably ignored or overlooked most of the time in news reports. But I’m not going to spend time analysing dozens of news reports to try and prove my point.

        I just think that point is hair-splitting in order to keep the Guardian in the frame. I think the Guardian’s short summary fairly represents what ISIS was getting at, while leaving out a lot of repetitive Islamic bullshit in the original statement.


        • Dick Veldkamp
          Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:46 am | Permalink

          InfiniteImprobability: I entirely agree, it’s hair splitting.

          Re repetitiveness, see:

        • reasonshark
          Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:08 am | Permalink

          But when a group lists the sins of its victims and puts blasphemy alongside crusading and warring, why modify that specific bit unless you want to hide it? It’s not a trivial part of the statement; in fact, the rest of the statement overwhelmingly builds up to it. Yet the closest the article gets to identifying the religious nature of the incident is mentioning Jihadis and the crusade.

          There’s rank incompetence, and then there’s suspiciously specific rank incompetence.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            ” why modify that specific bit unless you want to hide it? It’s not a trivial part of the statement”

            Well, actually, the Guardian also left out the mention of ‘crusader campaign’. Someone in the other camp could complain that that’s an obvious reference to the West’s long history of meddling in the Middle East.

            The Guardian summarised it. They necessarily left a lot out. Picking over the bits they left out and pouncing on one specific bit as being of unique significance is, IMO, an exercise in literary criticism.


            • reasonshark
              Posted November 19, 2015 at 1:53 am | Permalink

              Well, actually, the Guardian also left out the mention of ‘crusader campaign’.

              Well, actually, no they didn’t. It’s right there in the quotation, except they just called it the “crusade”. What are you trying to pull?

              The Guardian summarised it.

              They quoted it. There’s a difference, namely that if you’re quoting, you let people know when bits are missing. In fact, they deliberately excluded that part on the shaky grounds that it wasn’t “pertinent”, which in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks is frankly daft; see AdamF below: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/misleading-duplicitous-and-cowardly-reporting-by-the-guardian-of-isiss-statement-on-the-paris-attacks/#comment-1264583

              This wasn’t incompetence or “literary criticism”. They all but admit they dismissed the religiosity of a religious group as unimportant. It’s bullshit.

  21. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    This omission of the faith part is why I have been logged out if Facebook for a couple days. Cowardly? Maybe, but Facebook isn’t the best place to argue this with your Muslim friend (who I argued with when we were in university when he would slam atheists but see religion as beyond criticism – hey, I was ahead of the New Atheists!)

  22. Jeffery
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I keep finding myself wondering how this. “trend” of denying Islam’s involvement in terrorism got started, and what sustains it.

    These people are like creationists: they post articles claiming that religion has nothing to do with it; someone comes back with an article using exact quotes and facts to prove them wrong. Then, the next day, they’re right back there with the same old, worn-out claims again.

    I suspect that part of its, “roots” lie in a deeply-embedded reluctance on the part of those who are, “believers” in religion to countenance the denunciation of ANY religion; especially the idea that its basic tenets are dead wrong: they have an unconscious fear that, once we are done with Islam, we, “secularists” will turn on them, next.

    The, “outbreak” of radical PC-ness on campuses lately seems to me to be directly due to agitations by Muslim students that play directly upon the unsophisticated thought processes of new students. It became, “hip” years ago to side with the Palestinians against the, “oppressor” Israel; many very effective speakers managed to sway many liberals and those sympathetic to human suffering to their side, while conveniently avoiding mentioning that they would love to see the Jews wiped from the face of the Earth (I doubt if the opposite is true). Once again we are engaged in the old struggle of knowledge and rational thought v/s superstition, ignorance, and the passions produced by them. Hopefully, harsh reality will win out: the inundation of Europe by hordes of refugees, most of whom have not the slightest desire to. “assimilate”, has done wonders to change attitudes there.

    • Posted November 18, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I suspect that part of its, “roots” lie in a deeply-embedded reluctance on the part of those who are, “believers” in religion to countenance the denunciation of ANY religion; especially the idea that its basic tenets are dead wrong: they have an unconscious fear that, once we are done with Islam, we, “secularists” will turn on them, next.

      That’s very much it. As purveyors of faith, they must protect faith itself at all costs. Without faith, they themselves have no power over others.

      To the faithful, that’s where the hostility towards rationalists really comes from. If you have faith in the worng gods, at least there’s hope that your faith can be bent towards the right ones. But if you actually want real evidence before you take something for granted…well, how is any priest supposed to compete with that?

      It’d be one thing if these people were just in the storytelling business and were offering their stories as a way to argue for what they value most. But they want to short-circuit it all, and not have a competition where the best values and the best stories of values go head-to-head on their merits…instead, they want to speak with the voice of an ultimate and unquestionable authority to impose their own values and stories upon everybody else.


    • plingar
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Well stated, eloquent and accurate in my opinion.

  23. AdamF
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    I was curious, so I wrote to those at the Observer/Guardian who apparently handle these issues.

    Here’s the response I got:

    “Thank you for your email. All newspapers edit statements to get the pertinent points across. It would seem to me to perfectly reasonable to drop the clause about cursing the Prophet when recording what these people had to say by way of justification for killing 129 innocent people. No newspaper is a publicity service for extremists.”

    I responded with the following:

    “Whereas all newspapers edit statements to get the pertinent points across, surely quotations should be amended to indicate that something within that quote is being left out. Otherwise it isn’t a quotation.

    As currently written the quote implies that ISIS is only responding to direct attacks, when they are also apparently responding to supposed blasphemy against their prophet. If the observer doesn’t wish to include that fact, then don’t pretend it’s a complete quote. That seems perfectly reasonable.

    And if you don’t wish to be a publicity service for extremists, don’t water down the irrational nature of their demands.”

    • reasonshark
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Looks like the Guardian are trying to eat their cake and have it. The best way to get the pertinent point across is to ignore one of the pertinent points altogether. Well, that’s a novel approach, I’ll grant you that much.

      If some madman says they killed because the victims were blasphemous, how is it reasonable to drop this accusation and change the message while pretending the result is everything you need to know? Just because we recognize religious zealots as unreasonable, doesn’t mean they (the zealots) weren’t serious about it: if someone killed their wife because they thought she was a lion, would it be reasonable to ignore that when reporting the case? And if the newspaper isn’t a publicity service for extremists, then why publish the statement at all? Either quoting them exactly is giving them public service – in which case, they’ve just set a precedent for all kinds of quotation and are hypocrites if they don’t meet it – or it isn’t – in which case, they shouldn’t doctor it so.

      I think it’s just code for “We decided the religious element was neither involved nor important, so it wasn’t, so it’s OK if we edit that bit out”.

      • AdamF
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I agree with your assessment.

        Perhaps I was naive, but I honestly didn’t expect such a lame excuse to be offered. I doubt any journalism school would consider this to be ethical behaviour, let alone pass it off as “reasonable” when engaged in by a professional journalist.

        If can’t even trust them to quote accurately…

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