News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch regularly uses his Twitter account to pontificate on hot-button issues. His latest – a broad-brush Tweet laying the violence of Charlie Hebdo at the feet of all Muslims – might leave some in his orbit squirming. “Maybe most Moslems peaceful,” the 83-year old tweeted Saturday, “but until they recognise and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”
One wonders whether Mr Murdoch’s belief that all the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are responsible for the despicable actions of an extremist minority extends to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Bin Talal, who is Muslim, is News Corp’s second-largest voting shareholder and historically a staunch ally of the Murdoch family. Bin Talal’s support was a key factor back in 2004 when John Malone tried to wrest control of News Corp away from Murdoch. Bin Talal has officially never voted against Murdoch in 17 years as a News Corp shareholder.
Mr Murdoch is also a shareholder in the prince’s Rotana Arab media group, the majority of whose employees are also Muslim. Will their culpability be on the docket at the next shareholder meeting? How do his Muslim allies feel about all this? Deadline contacted the office of Prince Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding company, but we haven’t yet heard back.
The post in question has been retweeted more than 4,600 times, with more than 2,200 favoriting Rupe’s rant. That doesn’t mean everybody, even non-Muslims, agree with him. One noteworthy voice of dissent is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, for instance, who also tweeted on the subject:
“I was born a Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate,” she wrote in one tweet.
She dug deep for a second: “The Spanish Inquisition was my fault, as is all Christian fundamentalist violence. Oh, and Jim Bakker.”
Murdoch’s tweets, which also warned of the “big jihadist danger looming from Philippines to Africa to Europe to US,” comes as more details emerge about Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee of the kosher grocery who hid Jewish customers from the gunman (who police say killed four others) by leading them to a basement chiller room. Though originally considered a suspect by police officers, his heroic actions have since been praised in France and beyond.
Rupert Murdoch has a history of making controversial tweets. In November, he waded into the debate over the use of Anglo-Saxon actors in Ridley Scott‘s Exodus by commenting that Egyptians were white.
Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that Mr. Murdoch chose Twitter to make his latest views known. Prince Al-Waleed acquired 3% of Twitter in December 2011 and remains a strategic shareholder.