Harris-Perry: New York Times Wrong to Show Malik in Hijab Because It Suggests 'This is What Terrorism Looks Like'

December 7, 2015

The New York Times, despite a front-page editorial advocating for gun control, still failed to live up to the left-wing sensibilities of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday because it had a picture of San Bernardino shooter and devout Muslim Tafsheen Malik wearing her hijab.

Now, Harris-Perry complained in the clip first flagged by NewsBusters, the newspaper was problematic for suggesting "this is what terrorism looks like."

Malik pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist organization the same day she and husband Syed Farook killed 14 people. The New York Times reported Malik was "visibly devout" with her use of the hijab and face-covering niqab. It is unclear how any other picture of Malik could have been circulated. As NewsBusters suggested, was the newspaper expected to photoshop the hijab off her?

Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour claimed Saturday on Harris-Perry's eponymous show that the media's rhetoric about the massacre shifted when it turned out the perpetrators were Islamic.

"All of a sudden we find out they're Muslim. Bam, gun violence is out of the question," she said. "We start talking about terrorism. And I'm extremely disturbed. I mean, I looked at the New York Times cover today. There, you have a whole op-ed on gun control. Great. Right next to it is pictures from the apartment of things that I have in my house."

"Yes!" Harris-Perry said.

"These are things that all Muslims have in their house," Sarsour said. "There's nothing about that that tells you a story about what terrorism looks like. So you're telling me that when my friends who are not Muslim come into my home and see a Koran on see frames on the wall with a scripture from my religion, is that supposed to tell you something? I mean, it's absolutely outrageous."

Sarsour said there was a clear "double standard" for how Muslims are treated when they are perpetrators.

"Also, right next to it [is] an image of the shooting suspect there in an hijab," Harris-Perry said. "And the idea that, okay, this is what terrorism looks like, I ... for me, that is a difference, and it is a material and meaningful difference in how we ... so on the one hand again, I want to be able to talk about what the thing is that is terrorism. On the other hand, I have to reflect that this happens only for specific communities."

Harris-Perry, who has also warned against using the term "hard worker" because it's offensive to slaves or something, is known for her serious opinions and nuanced panel discussions.