Nieman Reports Vol 61 No2 Summer 2007 Islam: Reporting in by Nieman Reports for Journalism at Harvard University

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As a result, we experience persistent failure either in appreciating or taking adequately into 3 eMprint newsbook 4 consideration the fundamental social and political realities that motivate people of other nationalities and cultures whose actions and policies we presume to judge and whose destinies we sometimes arrogantly undertake to control directly. Nowhere is that unfortunate proclivity more evident than in our dealings with the Arab and Muslim worlds, where imprecise technical terms like “covert action,” “regime change,” and “preventive war” are casually tossed about nowadays.

The seminal events of September 11, 2001 have had a profound and lasting effect on the American public’s exposure to and understanding of Islam and Muslims and, for most Americans, the conduit of information has been the mainstream media. S. engagement in the Middle East and South Asia has broadened and deepened. Immediately after September 11th, journalists faced a steep learning curve in covering Islam and Muslims at home and abroad. Beyond reporting on the core beliefs and practices that Muslims share, making journalistic sense of the sheer diversity of Islam and the Muslim world has proved much more challenging.

The Islamic prohibition on human imagery has not hindered the blossoming of a rich visual culture, though it has spurred concentration and creativity. Indeed, artists have often turned to nature for inspiration, as Middle Eastern art has long drawn upon the opulence of the region’s nature and the natural products—spices, fruits and vegetables—that are proudly displayed in the area’s plentiful and busy markets. n Katharina Eglau is a freelance photographer with the German agency Joker. de Photos by Katharina Eglau.

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