A Los Angeles Times profile Sunday of a Syrian refugee family tried to show that the family was integrating and adjusting to their new American life, but many readers noticed one important thing was missing.
Throughout the photos — and even a three-minute video — accompanying the lengthy piece on the Wawieh family and their move from war-torn Syria to the United States, readers rarely got a glimpse of the matriarch of the family, nor the Waweihs’ older daughters — a surprising omission.
The mother was mentioned in the article, which stated: “Safaa, a wry woman whose light hazel eyes contrast strikingly with her black hijab, refuses to let the hotel staff clean the rooms, preferring to make the beds and scrub the floors herself.”
However, there was no picture of Safaa donning her black hijab — a head covering for Muslim women that has made negative news recently — nor the family’s older daughters who are at the age to also wear a hijab. Only Fouad, the father, his sons and younger daughters, who are not expected to cover their heads yet, were shown in the photos and videos.
When Breitbart News confronted the Times about the omission — and numerous other questionable parts of the presentation — the newspaper did not respond.
However, looking back on an earlier profile of the family by CBS2’s Greg Mills, we saw some answers as to why these women were missing in the photo story.
In the October story that reported on the family’s plight, Mills stated that “(Fouad) Wawieh didn’t want his wife or teenage daughters shown on TV.”
This may be the reason for the Times’ omission as well. However, if that were the case it should have prompted the paper to take a different angle on the story.
The whole issue of Syrian refugees in the United States is hugely controversial. The fact that this family is integrating, but the laws of their past still follow them around, is important to note, especially when it seems that Fouad, the patriarch of the family, wants to keep others from getting a true look at his family.
There is nothing wrong with wearing a hijab, so why hide it? … unless there is something else to be hidden.
The Times owed it to their readers to not just do another fluff piece on the Syrian plight featuring America’s favorite “refugee family.” These are people, not puppets, and readers deserve to see the truth.
Not only that, but there could be a very logical reason that Fouad did not want his older daughters or wife shown. The omission makes it seem like he lives up to the stereotype of a Middle Eastern man who keeps the women in his life in an oppressive state.
However, what if his reason was something like, “I’ve seen how people feel about Muslims. I am afraid for my family, and want to protect them. People see a hijab and think, ‘terrorist.’” That could show humanity and cause some readers to take a step back and think about the facts, not the omissions.