MA: Muslim Leader Sues TV Station for Defamation


The chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Boston filed a
defamation suit yesterday against WFXT-TV (Channel 25), claiming that an
investigative report identifying him as a member of a terrorist group is
part of a pattern of anti-Muslim bias in the media.

The suit, filed in Suffolk Superior court by Dr. Yousef Abou-Allaban, 41, a
Syrian-born psychiatrist who is a US citizen, alleges that he was defamed
by a November 2004 story and promotional spots describing him as a member
of the Muslim Brotherhood, a violent terrorist group with links to Al
Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.

The suit names Channel 25, its parent company, Fox Television Stations
Inc., reporter Michael Beaudet, and producer Jonathan Wells as defendants.

"I felt I was victimized," Abou-Allaban said in an interview. "There have
been many people in the Muslim community who have been demonized and lost
their businesses. I felt my reputation had been tarnished. . . . I felt I
became a walking criminal associated with a criminal like Osama bin Laden."

Abou-Allaban said he began to recognize the potential impact of the story
when a longtime patient told him: "I never expected you to be an Al Qaeda
member."

A spokeswoman for WFXT said the station had not seen the suit, and refused
comment. Wells and Beaudet also declined comment. A spokeswoman for Fox
Television Stations Inc. said she could not talk about a pending lawsuit.

In the suit, the plaintiff says that the sole source for the assertion that
Abou-Allaban is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood is Dr. Ahmed Elkadi, a
man "purported to have been the president of the Muslim Brotherhood in the
United States prior to 1995," and who "is totally and permanently disabled"
and whose "neurological status is that of severe impairment..."

Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations,
a Washington-based nonprofit group that works to enhance the image of
Islam, said the portrayal of Muslims in the media "is definitely an issue
of rising concern for us," after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In January, CAIR officials met with Fox broadcast network officials to
express concern about a plot in the "24" antiterrorism drama series that
featured a Muslim family as a sleeper cell. After that meeting, "24" star
Keifer Sutherland, delivered an on-air disclaimer saying: "While terrorism
is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the
world, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim community
stands firmly beside their fellow Americans…

 


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