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A horrible individual crime resulted in a terrible and shocking mass reaction, and the two crimes created large media controversy that sows the seeds for similar potential crimes…

As soon as public opinion got to grips with the story of the murder of an old-aged couple and their two granddaughters in the Lebanese village of Ketermaya, images of the lynching and mutilation of the original murderer by a group of people were broadcast on television channels.

The images of the crowd cheering as the group of killers carried out its revenge was broadcast on television channels, and this could also be seen on internet websites in its original uncut version without detracting from the violence and brutality of the crime. Scenes such as these have undoubtedly unveiled the horror and bloody nature of the idea of revenge and seeking to carry out violence, and how a murder could be carried out by a hysterical group in the manner that we observed. This group revenge would not have taken place were it not for the gross failure of the state which until now is hesitant about arresting those involved in this murder, which is something that prevented justice from being carried out in reference to the first crime. Those who participated in the mass killing would not have done this unless there was already a chronic weakness in the meaning of civil justice and in the end justice was the biggest loser as a result of this bloody crime.

The hysteria of this murder resulted in a media obsession and a lot of discussion about what happened in the village of Ketermaya, with talk about this split between those who support the actions of the villagers, and those who protest against it. However a wide range of people unanimously agree that what happened was “just retribution” and an inevitable result of the state distancing itself from the death penalty, and this is something that indicates the degree to which the culture of law and order and justice has hit rock bottom.

The [Egyptian] suspect was not tried, and was not convicted of carrying out the original brutal crime. Even if his guilt was proven, would torturing him have brought his victims back to life?

Some relatives of the victims of the original crime reproach the media for being preoccupied with the lynching of the suspect, and failing to shed light on the brutality of the crime that resulted in the deaths of the Lebanese family. There were even some who called for the media to broadcast footage of the maimed bodies of the two children who were killed as the cause of the Egyptian suspect’s fate.

However even if the horror suffered by the aging couple and the two children is a reason to understand the anger of the victims’ family, how can we explain the bias exhibited by the media and the public with regards to this?

More importantly, the media, which condemned the group lynching, did not hesitate to cause further damage of another kind by continually broadcasting footage of the corpse that was hung from an electricity pole in the village, in addition to other disturbing images.

Many have fallen into the trap of “the justness of execution” whilst forgetting two important facts; firstly that the masses have no right to carry out justice with their own hands or to go too far and carry out a justice that is no less brutal than the original crime. Secondly, the world today is reconsidering the feasibility of the death penalty and its viability as a deterrent against crimes.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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