U.S. News


My Name Is Noor, And I'm Not Omar Mateen's Wife

Newsy's Noor Tagouri talks about misrepresentation of Muslim women in media.
RawStory's incorrect photo pairing of Noor Tagouri
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 17, 2017

On Monday, RawStory used a photo of me under the headline, "Wife of Pulse Nightclub Killer Omar Mateen Arrested." To be clear, the only thing Mateen's wife and I have in common is our first name, Noor.

My stomach dropped when I initially saw the photo and headline, but I can't say I was totally surprised a mistake like this would happen. Sadly, it's predictable. The first time I heard Mateen's wife and I shared the same name, I immediately felt a fear that I would be associated with the terrible suffering he caused in Orlando. This is a fear felt time and again by Muslim Americans.

Muslim women especially are often misrepresented in the media. In this case, because I wear hijab and Noor Salman does not, it's easy to make the mistake of seeing me as "more Muslim" and proceeding with the use of the photo. 

Anything posted on the internet can live on permanently. Once this kind of error is made, there's no guarantee early readers will return to the article and see the corrected version. This is why it's essential for reporters and editors to be thoughtful and careful in reporting on stereotyped communities. Just ask Mark Hughes, who received thousands of death threats after being falsely linked to last year's Dallas police shooting

Carelessness in reporting can quickly turn into real danger for people and their communities, and newsrooms should be a check on this — not an instigator. When similar mistakes are made, outlets should immediately retract them and issue apologies and corrections once notified. And I hope this mistake can be seen as a lesson for all journalists, including myself.