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MANILA, Philippines -- Media organizations on Thursday took the Philippine Daily Inquirer to task for a picture caption that labeled a woman dressed in a burka, traditional Muslim attire that fully covers the wearer, a “security risk.”
The offending caption, which saw print in the Inquirer’s Wednesday issue, accompanied the photo of the woman as she shook President Benigno Aquino III’s hand during a ceremony in Malacanang.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was “disturbing that the paper cleared such a blatantly bigoted caption, especially after the firestorm of criticism it reaped in the wake of the Demetrio Vicente fiasco, when PDI ran a series of unflattering photos of the stroke victim when he appeared at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona and labeled it ‘Character witness’.”
The group also worried that “because of the caption writer’s irresponsibility, the blame might be unfairly laid on the photographer whose byline accompanies the photograph” and asked that the Inquirer apologize and explain “to the public, to Muslims and to its own staff photographer.”
The Philippine Center for Photojournalism also weighed in with a letter to the Inquirer’s senior editors, led by editor-in-chief Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc, about what it described as the “uncalled for, insensitive and even libelous” caption head.
“We believe labeling a dress a security risk does not take into account the nuances of the Islamic culture. It is also an affront to the minority Muslim population of this country that a symbol of Muslim culture is labeled outright a security risk and further fuels the stereotyping of our Muslim brothers as terrorists,” said the letter, signed by PCP chairman Fernando Sepe Jr.
Sepe also requested the paper to “exercise the proper course of action by issuing a retraction and printing a public apology to the offended parties.”