Former This Week host Christiane Amanpour's reputation for biased reporting precedes her, despite her own denials. Despite this, ABC thought it fit to air a two-part special starting on Friday evening titled Back to the Beginning. The network's press release trumpeted, "Join...Christiane Amanpour on the ultimate road trip as she travels to the lands of the Bible....to investigate the roots of those stories that have created so much conflict, and at the same time so much of the healing she has seen across her career."
However, the last time the journalist put together a mini-series on religion, God's Warriors, for CNN in 2007, she gave Muslim "fundamentalists" in the U.S. sympathetic treatment, while showing "concern" for "right-wing" Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and discomfort towards the theology and practices of American evangelical Christians. Amanpour even equated one Christian youth group with the Taliban.
Each episode of the three-part CNN series examined the "fundamentalists" of the three monotheistic faiths. On "God's Jewish Warriors", Amanpour used the "right wing" term seven times to label the Israeli settlers and/or their supporters in the U.S. The journalist dropped her Taliban reference during a hostile interview of evangelical minister Ron Luce on "God's Christian Warriors." Just before this, she remarked to Luce, "When I, you know, read that women have to wear skirts of a certain length, and guys aren't allowed to, you know, go on the Internet, unsupervised. And I think, you know, totalitarian regimes."
However, in "God's Muslim Warriors," Amanpour devoted a whole segment detailing the plight of Muslims in the U.S. She included a profile of Rehan Seyam, an American-born Muslim of Egyptian descent who, in her words, was a "jihadist, just not the sort you're thinking of":
AMANPOUR (voice-over): She's a lifelong American.... Born and raised in Islip, Long Island.... But Rehan Seyam is a jihadist, just not the sort you're thinking of.
SEYAM: The word jihad means struggle. I treat me wearing hijab in the United States as a struggle, jihad itself, struggle. That's my jihad. I mean, holy war, really? Who made that up? That's really a very bad translation. It's a self-struggle. Living in a secular society, where you have to work to maintain your Islamic values, that's jihad.
AMANPOUR: ...As she grew up and went to college in what was now a post-9/11 world, she began to get closer to Islam. And, one morning, she made a decision that would change her life, to wear the hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf.
SEYAM: It was very dramatic for me. And I remember how – like, even now, thinking about it, it really does make my heart beat a little bit faster, because I was making a decision I knew was permanent. You put on hijab, you don't take it off. So, I said, that's it.
AMANPOUR: Rehan's jihad isn't violence, not even close, but it is public. It is a deliberate display of faith, not just covering her head, but swearing off alcohol, praying five times a day, which isn't easy in a typically busy American life.... For Rehan and her husband, Rahmi... and most practicing Muslims, Islam is their identity. It shapes every aspect of who they are.
SEYAM: Islam is a way of life. Ask anyone who practices. They will tell you, it's not just your religion. A lot of people go to the church on Sunday, and that's their religion for their week. Mine is every single day, every minute of my day.
AMANPOUR: Islam even shaped their courtship. Rahmi asked Rehan's parents for permission before he asked her out.
If the above examples are any indication, it shouldn't be a surprise if Amanpour's latest mini-series gives the kid glove treatment to Muslims/Islam in the Middle East while scrutinizing Judaism and Christianity.