John Burns does not know what the shahada is

From the Angry Arab:

An American correspondent in the Middle East sent me this:
"Today the Iraqi government held a one time screening of the most recent execution video of barzan ibrahim and awad hamed al bandar, with no cameras allowed. Bandar was very scared and crying. He was saying the shahada. Journalists asked if Bandar said the shahada. New york times bureau chief and veteran middle east correspondent John Burns asked Basem Ridha, Nouri al Maliki's spokesman what the shahada was. Basem said that it was the Islamic creed. "whats that?" asked John Burns. Journalists explained that it was ""There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger."
Wow. At least four or five years in and out in the Middle East, including several as the NYT's bureau chief in Baghdad, and John Burns doesn't know what the shahada is. And this is arguably the NYT's top foreign correspondent. Do you see why I don't want to read their Middle East coverage? It's not just the bias, but the caliber of the reporters that's outrageous.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,