The spread of Ebola continues to remain a major problem in west Africa. Earlier this year, the epicenter of the outbreak was in the country of Liberia. As efforts to contain the virus in that country have proven somewhat successful, the virus continues to spread rampantly in a neighboring country – Sierra Leone – which is 73% Muslim.
This is potentially very significant for at least two reasons, as Shoebat.com has reported. One has to do with Islamic burial practices which as Paul Sperry points out, do not mix well at all with deceased Ebola victims who actually become more contagious after death.
Another, far more insidious danger, could involve the use of Ebola in Jihad, as Shoebat.com has pointed out. There is no evidence this practice is yet taking place but it clearly qualifies as the medically hazardous equivalent of suicide bombings.
Earlier this month, a cooler of Ebola-contaminated blood samples in Guinea was reportedly stolen from a taxi that was transporting the samples. The identities and motives of the robbers are not known but Guinea is a country with a Muslim population that constitutes 85% of the total. The odds of the robbers being Muslim are therefore significant.
Yet, despite the Islamic burial practices and the x-factor of jihad in Sierra Leone, the New York Times is looking solely at failed aid attempts by the west.
In the article about the rising spread of Ebola in the country of Sierra Leone, the first four paragraphs are far less about reporting news and far more about appealing to emotion. Jumping to the fifth paragraph…
While health officials say they are making headway against the Ebola epidemic in neighboring Liberia, the disease is still raging in Sierra Leone, despite the big international push. In November alone, the World Health Organization has reported more than 1,800 new cases in this country, about three times as many as in Liberia, which until recently had been the center of the outbreak.
More than six weeks ago, international health officials conceded that they were overwhelmed in Sierra Leone and reluctantly announced a Plan B. Until enough hospital beds could be built here, they pledged to at least help families tend to their sick loved ones at home.
The author then pivots back to the predominant theme of his article – the plight of an Ebola-stricken victim designed to generate sympathy. Anyone should feel sympathy for such victims but an article should be about investigative journalism, not tugging at heart-strings.
Eventually, the article veers back to information that should have been found at the beginning…
Western officials are quick to add that even if all the resources were in the right place, that would not stop the virus.
“You can have as many helicopters, ships and kit here as you’d like,” said Lt. Colonel Matt Petersen, a British adviser. “But unless you change behavior, it’s not going to stop transmission.”
Public health professionals are beginning to look harder at Sierra Leone’s culture, which is dominated by secret men’s and women’s societies that have certain rituals, especially around burials. Many people here — just like in other cultures — believe that the afterlife is more important than this one. A proper burial, in which the body is touched and carefully washed, is the best way to ensure a soul reaches its destination.
It is not pure altruism, either. If burial traditions are not followed, people worry they may be haunted by a restless soul. But in a time of Ebola, handling corpses is extremely risky because they are highly infectious. Seventy percent of new cases here, Western officials said, are directly linked to traditional burials.
Those ‘rituals’ are Islamic but that is not mentioned in the article, nor is the disparity in Muslim population between Sierra Leone (73%) and Liberia (13%), which could have something to do with Ebola’s rise in one country and containment in the other. Instead, here is what readers are told:
Neighboring Liberia has many of the same secret societies, but some anthropologists said that the Liberian government may have done a better job working with the leaders of secret societies to change burial practices, one possible reason Liberia’s Ebola crisis has been stabilizing.
The article ended with the fate of the Ebola-stricken victim it opened with personalizing. Those of us who object to this kind of reporting are demonized as uncaring. In reality, it’s just the opposite.
The author irresponsibly avoided facts that could actually help readers better understand what’s happening.