Newsweek kicked off the week with an unfortunately named cover story, “Muslim Rage,” timed to address the anti-American protests erupting across Muslim countries in the last week. It is written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Islam, who escaped an arranged marriage in her native Somalia by immigrating to the Netherlands.
In it she argues that those Muslims who believe “blasphemers,”—such as the makers of the anti-Islam YouTube video that helped to spark the recent burst of violence, as well as herself—deserve punishment are not a minority. From Newsweek:
The Muslim men and women (and yes, there are plenty of women) who support—whether actively or passively—the idea that blasphemers deserve to suffer punishment are not a fringe group. On the contrary, they represent the mainstream of contemporary Islam.
Although the author ultimately argues for patience on the American side, the piece, which is accompanied by a photo of anguished looking, angry Muslim protesters, immediately set off a debate on how Americans view the Muslim world and how the United States should react to the ongoing protests as well as in terms of a longer-term strategy in the region. Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, a Washington-based non-profit for the Palestinian cause,told Politico he thought the cover was joke and the imagery “is extremely unhelpful.”
When Newsweek tweeted out its article it suggested readers discuss the cover story using the hashtag “MuslimRage.” It also seemed to tweet its excitement about “#MuslimRage!” in another tweet: “This week’s Newsweek cover, on newsstands & the iPad today: #MuslimRage! Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes on how she survived it.”
The legions of Twitter decided to react with their own non-violent, humorous social media protest of sorts. The tongue-in-cheek tweets smartly showcase the silliness of grouping all Muslims into one lump stereotype—minus the rage.
The magazine is standing by its cover. Its public relations director Andrew Kirk told Politico that the cover “accurately depicts the events of the past week.”