The Quebec Press Council says La Presse erred in using unauthorized photo of veil-clad Montrealers to illustrate a review of a book on Islamic fundamentalism
Author: Chris Taylor
Source: The Gazette, August 5, 1997, p. A4
Original title: Picture didn’t fit: press council : The Quebec Press Council says La Presse erred in using unauthorized photo of veil-clad Montrealers to illustrate a review of a book on Islamic fundamentalism.
A controversial book review and accompanying headline and photograph that ran in La Presse last November have received mixed reviews from the Quebec Press Council.
Journalist Martine Turenne’s article on Yolande Geadah’s book, Veiled Women: Fundamentalisms Unmasked, appeared Nov. 17, 1996.
A complaint was lodged soon after, claiming that the review, by addressing the book’s harsh appraisal of Islam, promoted a racist and distorted image of the religion.
Also criticized were the article’s headline, The Veil: Beyond All Rationality, and an accompanying photograph,taken two years earlier, of veil-wearing young Montrealers.
In its decision last month, the press council found that while both the headline and Turenne’s work were beyond reproach, the use of the unauthorized photograph was not.
“At the heart of the question – the journalistic approach – the council judged that the work was well done,” the press council’s secretary-general, Robert Maltais, said yesterday.
“But the photo posed a problem because it didn’t have anything to do with the article. It might correspond visually, but you can’t use it in that kind of context.”
“What it tells us is that we have to be even more vigilant,” La Presse managing editor Marcel Desjardins said of the decision, which doesn’t carry any financial penalty.
The complaint had been filed in January by Sheema Khan, a member of the Montreal chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Khan later withdrew her complaint about the review, after accepting that Turenne had to describe the book’s contents. But Khan pressed ahead with complaints about the headline and accompanying photo.
“This is something new for the Muslim community, in the sense of going through existing channels,” Khan said.
“It’s nice to know that we can go to the press council or some official agency, which will hear our complaints and judge fairly.”
The families of the photographed women aren’t considering legal action against the newspaper.
The Quebec Press Council says La Presse erred in using unauthorized photo of veil-clad Montrealers to illustrate a review of a book on Islamic fundamentalism.