The publishers of Newsweek defended their latest cover image yesterday, amid claims that it stereotypes the world's 1.6 billion Muslims as permanently angry members of fundamentalist mobs.
Under the headline "Muslim Rage," the magazine's latest front page pictures bearded Middle-Eastern men wearing turbans. They are shown howling, shaking their fists, and holding a striped flag, during what appears to be an anti-American protest.
The image relates to an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the controversy over a YouTube video insulting the Prophet Mohamed. But critics, at home and abroad, say it is one-sided and irresponsible. "The cover is shocking. I thought it was a joke," said Yousef Munayyer, a Washington-based director of the Jerusalem Fund. "For a legitimate, mainstream publication to portray the situation as 'Muslim Rage'... is only feeding this 'clash of civilizations' mentality."
On its website, Newsweek asked readers to debate the cover on Twitter, under the hashtag #muslimrage. Thousands of Muslims responded by uploading pictures of family picnics, children holding balloons and other non-aggressive scenarios. Others tweeted sarcastic examples of things that make them angry, such as "when there isn't enough yogurt to go with my biryani".
In a statement, Newsweek claimed that its cover "accurately depicts the events of the past week as violent protests have erupted in the Middle East". It is not the first time that its editor, Tina Brown, has courted controversy recently. She ran covers showing a digitally manipulated Princess Diana "at 50", Barack Obama with a rainbow-coloured halo as "America's First Gay President", and a woman eating asparagus in a sexually provocative manner.