A Maine newspaper has apologized for running a front page story about Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
On Saturday, the Portland Press Herald published a story, "A show of faith and forgiveness," on its front page. The story centered on area Muslims gathering together to commemorate Eid, the official end of the monthlong Ramadan fast. But the paper did not run a story marking the anniversary of 9/11 on the front page.
The placement of the story provoked outrage from some Press Herald readers, who posted angry comments to the paper's Facebook page:
"Thanks for remembering 9/11 in the paper today. Instead you have Muslims in the paper praying. What a worthless paper."
"Thanks for your patriotism today- with your front page story of Muslims worshipping. Good that some secondary associate press story of 9/11 is on the inside second page. Boycotting your paper now."
"...since when have AMERICANS been put on the back burner so a front page can be focused on Muslims!"
While other readers defended the paper's coverage, editor and publisher Richard Connor issued an apology the following day:
"We made a news decision on Friday that offended many readers and we sincerely apologize for it. Many saw Saturday's front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, September 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago. We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page."
Connor's apology sparked fresh criticism. Time's James Poniewozik wrote in a blog entry:
"Here's where we are in America, 2010: There is now one group of Americans whose peaceful religious observance cannot be noted by decent people, unless it is 'balanced' by the mention of a vile crime committed in 2001 by people, with a perverted idea of the same religion, from the other side of the world."