With the topic of Palestinian prisoner releases making news, the Christian Science Monitor profiles Khaled Asakreh, released in the last prisoner release several months ago. We hear about his
gleaming new home, courtesy of the Palestinian Authority’s strong financial support for prisoners. He has two TVs and four rooms of brand-new furniture all to himself, accompanied only by half a dozen plaques commemorating the 22 years he spent in prison. Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian fighter turned peacemaker, gazes out from one in the dining room.
We learn that he is soon to be married. The puff piece continues to focus on Asakreh’s rebuilding of his life and some of the hardships he faced while in prison. What we don’t learn until the very end is that he is a convicted murderer.
Asakreh is described as:
the first political prisoner from the area to be released by Israel in the past year.
So what did this “political prisoner” do to deserve 22 years in an Israeli prison?
Only a few paragraphs from the conclusion of the story does the CSM reveal this as an afterthought:
At the university in nearby Beit Jala where he and a few other prisoners are taking computer classes, Asakreh tries to tell the students – most of whom were born after he was convicted in 1991 for murdering French tourist Annie Ley in Bethlehem – that there is an alternative to violence.
Asakreh was charged in May 1991 with murder in the stabbing death of French tourist Annie Ley. Ley was dining at the Bethlehem restaurant where Asakreh was employed.
Since when was cold-blooded murder the act of a convicted political prisoner? By downplaying and marginalizing Asakreh’s heinous crime and implying that he was imprisoned for his political beliefs, the Christian Science Monitor has succeeded in legitimizing Palestinian terrorism against innocent civilians as if it were acceptable.
Ask the Christian Science Monitor why it treats a convicted murderer in such a way by writing to email@example.com and keep an eye out for coverage of a potential prisoner release in your local media.
Following the publication of this communique, the Christian Science Monitor removed the word “political” to describe Asakreh and added the following:
Editor’s note: This sentence has been revised to correctly reflect Asakreh’s status.
One HonestReporting reader also received a response from Christa Case Bryant, the journalist who wrote the piece. She admitted the error, which was due to a mistake in the first draft of the story and not fixed before it was filed. Credit to Christa Case Bryant for taking prompt action to correct the error.
Image: CC BY flickr/Casey Serin