In an interview with Shia Followers, former U.S. Marine Tim King said “Few news agencies in the West have interest in showing the vibrant side of Shia Islam, with its vast cultural history and peace.”
“They ignore that the Shia population has been far less violent in recent years by comparison,” he added.
Here’s the full text of the interview:
Shia Followers: What’s the significance of the Arbaeen pilgrimage, which is the largest gathering in the world?
Tim King: I first would emphasize that very fact you state above… the fact that it’s the largest gathering of human beings anywhere in the world, right at the center of one of the world’s volatile and significant regions. The event has deep meaning for Shia Muslims who travel from many places, particularly Iran, braving the elements and depending upon support to complete the journey. The pilgrimage represents the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali in 680.
Shia Followers: How do you relate the Battle of Karbala to our era?
Tim King: Iraq was mercilessly decimated by U.S. forces during the “Battle of Karbala” in 2003, during the recent long-ranging U.S.-led war that left up to 1.5 million Iraqis dead due to a false flag story from the GW Bush Administration, that Iraq was building nuclear weapons, which was just one in a series of lies issued by U.S. presidents who are almost always hell-bent on waging wars somewhere in the Middle east.
Shia Followers: How do you see the global media coverage of this event?
Tim King: I see an array of coverage but it is as if the western media finds some obligation to show the bad side, if they cover the event at all. If you examine non-western accounts, you see that the event went well for vast numbers of people, of course there was violence, but let’s remember that Saudi, Israeli and U.S. agitators are said to be behind much of what went wrong.
Shia Followers: As you mentioned, despite the fact that the majority of Shia Muslims mourn Imam Hussein’s martyrdom in non-violent ways, the mainstream media shows Shia Muslims as violent people. Could you further elaborate on how the Shia Muslims are portrayed in the media?
Tim King: Few news agencies in the West have interest in showing the vibrant side of Shia Islam, with its vast cultural history and peace. They ignore that the Shia population has been far less violent in recent years by comparison, and also that much of the violence from the Shia side is connected to the protection of Muslims, largely Palestinian, who have experienced so much abuse from not only Jewish militants but also Christian militias and forces in Lebanon. Then there is Yemen, where Shia forces and support was used to try to minimize the egregious violence from Saudi Arabia’s unwarranted, horrific attacks.
Additionally, the mainstream media never stops demonizing Iran, they always take stories out of context and endlessly blame Iran for problems in the world that grow in other places. Iran protects its religious minorities, unlike Saudi Arabia or its neighboring allies in the Persian Gulf region.
We can talk about it for days, but the single biggest reason that Israel constantly blames and attacks Iran is because the country’s national leaders have never stopped backing the beleaguered population of Palestine.
Shia Followers: How can the Arbaeen gathering help unify Muslims?
Tim King: I believe gatherings of this nature illustrate the common struggle of all Muslims to worship and observe the key figures in history recorded in the Holy Quran. Western and Zionist forces have played chess with the Middle East for far too long. The blame for nearly all suffering and strife in the Middle East is the result of western meddling and political control.
Shia Followers: This year’s Arbaeen pilgrimage takes place as Iraq is recovering from several days of violent protests. Some commentators argue that the timing of the provocations signals foreign-backed elements seek to undermine the Arbaeen pilgrimage. What’s your view?
Tim King: I absolutely believe that to be the case. You have the radicalized Wahhabi and Salafist elements in Saudi Arabia that seek to implement their bizarre interpretations of Islam; the Zionist government of Israel which would like to wipe Iran from the map, and the impacts from the Trump regime in the U.S. which perhaps casts the worst light on Iran, as other world leaders increasingly take note.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native has served as Salem-News.com’s Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting.