Imagine if someone looked at a Christian cross on the wall, and took it to be representative of the cross-burning Ku Klux Klan? That's the logic some reporters are applying to the black Muslim flag found on Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's wall. They're equating the flag, a common symbol of a Muslim's faith, to a sign of affiliation with al Qaeda.
In a show of abject ignorance, many reporters covering the Boston Marathon bombing trial described a simple Muslim flag as a “Jihadi flag,” a statement that shows few reporters covering this case know much about Islam or care to inform their readers.
The particular Black Standard flag on Jahar’s wall appears to be one used by Al Qaeda. #Tsarnaev
— Kevin Cullen (@GlobeCullen) March 17, 2015
Prosecutors showing pics, #Tsarnaev had a black flag promoted by Islamic jihadists in his bedroom, summer 2012
— Milton Valencia (@MiltonValencia) March 17, 2015
The flag, known as the Black Standard or the Shahada flag, contains the testimony of the Islamic creed, declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Mohammed as God’s prophet. To be Muslim, one must accept the Shahada.
Admittedly, the flag has been co-opted by Muslim radicals and terrorists since the 1990s, but anyone who flies it or displays it is not necessarily—or even mostly—a Jihadi. Many Muslims have denounced the use of the flag by radicals.
As a comparison, the cross was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan during its second reiteration in 1915. Cross burning still occurs to this day and the lighting of these cross are accompanied by Christian prayer and hymns.
WhoWhatWhy bets that none of these reporters would consider someone with a cross on their wall a KKK racist, and would simply report it as a religious icon.
Look for the media to also turn this gesture into one of purely “Jihadi” symbolism without first researching the backstory of its meaning in moderate Islam.