The magazine’s story, penned by activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is teased on the cover with the words “How I Survived It. How We Can End It.”
Ali writes that the protesters behind the unrest, many calling for those responsible for the video to be punished, “represent the mainstream of contemporary Islam.”
“In the age of globalization and mass immigration, such intolerance has crossed borders and become the defining characteristic of Islam,” she writes.
The cover and story have spawned a new meme on Twitter, based off Newsweek’s tweet inviting discussion through the hashtag #MuslimRage.
Mocking messages have flooded the social media site, featuring photos and descriptions of Muslims in decidedly un-aggressive scenarios. There’s a picnicking family and a smiling child holding a pink balloon. A break-dancing teen in skinny jeans. A man blowing soap bubbles.
Others described what makes them break out into #MuslimRage: “When the cousins eat up all the goodies during Eid.” “Losing your shoes at the mosque.” More tongue-in-cheek, ad nauseam.
So did Newsweek make an epic public relations fail or did it execute a bold strategy to generate more newsstand sales and website clicks?
“Newsweek has become an expert in really throwing gasoline on the fire,” said Samir Husni of the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.
“They have become experts in igniting the media conversation, and any time you get that going, people will pick up the magazines for the right or wrong reasons,” he said.
“When controversial covers become the norm, they lose their impact,” Husni said. “If it’s a strategy for Newsweek to save itself in the long run, it’s the wrong strategy.”