Had it not been for the list of veteran journalists behind it, PM News’ August 22 report, about Muslim Pilgrims performing what it called the stoning of the devil, would have been dismissed as another hate-filled effort by a lone blogger, as it was odd that a report which had as its headline “2 million pilgrims stone the devil, yet he’s still alive” passed through the eyes of Editors and was published to offend at least 90 million Nigerians with the writer’s ignorance.
As part of the activities of the Islamic Pilgrimage (Hajj), participants are expected to throw small pebbles at three walls known as jamarat. Over the years, people ignorant of what this practice symbolises have assumed that the stones were being thrown at the devil whereas the action is symbolic of what Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) did while he visited the same place, and there is no Islamic authority that says the devil is actually being stoned.
This show of allegiance to Abraham and symbolic gesture by faithfuls that they will continue to strive against lowly self-desire was reported by PM News as a failed attempt to kill the devil whereas not even in the original story is it said that the intention is to kill the Devil. Even worse, the report paraded a scary ignorance of the belief system of at least half of Nigerians, while insisting to write on it. There are Islamic traditions and references from the Quran which says the Devil will die at the first blast of the horn, on the Day of Judgment; a clear indication that Muslims are not hoping to kill him during Hajj. Another clear indication being that Muslims praise Allah while casting the pebbles, as against cursing the devil.
Of utmost concern is that the News piece was not original. It was copied from News Agency of Nigeria which copied from Gulf News. The only difference in the PM News report was the inclusion of insults and mockery.
This screenshot shows the News was copied from NAN. It also shows that NAN did not include “yet he is still alive”
This screenshot shows that even the images are copied from NAN but PM News took the pains to add insults and mockery saying “they stone the devil every year and he is still alive and kicking”
This screenshot shows that for every picture they took the pain to edit and add insults. The first screenshot shows the picture from NAN. The second one shows the picture from PM News which edited and added “They have been stoning the devil for thousands of years, yet the devil is still living with them”
PM News, whose Editor is Lanre Babalola, is a sister media to TheNews as published by Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL) which was founded by Bayo Onanuga, Idowu Obasa, Dapo Olorunyomi, Babafemi Ojudu, Sani Kabir, Kunle Ajibade and Seye Kehinde.
It was founded in August 1994 and says it is “positioned as a paper for everyone.”
While it is common practice for major media houses in Nigeria to copy from each other, most times verbatim, hours after the offensive piece, funny sounding websites began to reproduce, putting PM News in its actual class of “journalists”. From LatestNigerianNews to News Assure, Shafaqna, XYZNews, and NaujaDallies, PM News, started by veterans, joined their look-alikes.
Attempts by tens of its followers on Twitter to call the attention of PM News to this embarrassing brand of journalism was met with silence. This paper waited 20 hours, despite seeing it immediately after publication, hoping that the internal system of PM News will check and rectify, nothing positive happened.