A 28 year old man was arrested yesterday after 2 guns were found in his luggage, as he entered the New York Hotel, near Disneyland Paris.
The man was arrested by police shortly after the firearms were detected by an x-ray machine in the entrance to the hotel, situated just a ten minute walk from Disneyland Paris which attracted 10 million visitors in 2014.
The bag contained two low caliber weapons including an automatic handgun, a box of ammunition and a Koran. A woman who was accompanying the man was also arrested, yet was later released. The man’s car was also searched by police.
The man was said to not be known to French security services and the case is currently being handled by local police – not a special anti-terrorism team.
This however did not stop media reports from supporting the idea that this may have been a planned terrorist attack. I understand that in the current climate we have become programmed to jump to these conclusions, however it should be the responsibility of the press to dispel these rumors and tell us the facts. The Independent and The Sun chose to feed the rumors by using the headlines ‘Disneyland Paris: Man arrested after two guns and Koran ‘found in suitcase” and ”Man with two firearms and a Koran’ arrested at hotel in Disneyland Paris’ respectively. Both articles and another from the BBC are quick to point out France is still in a state of emergency from the last Islamist attack 3 months ago, which tragically killed 130 people in the capital.
Mentioning terrorism in every case where a Muslim is in trouble with the police helps no one. It simply fuels the increasing number of people who believe all Muslims are terrorists and also helps the terrorists. If a terrorist group wishes to spread terror they must use the press. Yes, they carry out the horrific attacks but it is the press who report on it and therefore the wider world sees it, and that is vital for an informed society. However we must be careful not to report too heavily on the names of the terrorist groups and what they want – and we must not show parts of their promotional videos, which I have seen occur on ITV news at ten.
It seems unsustainable to me, for the press to constantly jump to conclusions over what has happened, especially in these circumstances. If we continue to report upon these incidents the way we do we will only spread fear and hatred. The press should tell us the facts without alluding to terrorism because the suspect is Muslim, and they should not let terrorists win air-time or print space, instead the focus should be on those who went to help the victims and how we will not be afraid of these monstrous people.
What do you think about the reporting on this incident and previous reporting on other stories? Do the press make it easy for terrorists to spread their message?