Two weeks ago, an entire Iraqi family was assassinated whilst asleep. Television screens broadcast images of the murdered family members who appeared to be taking a nap, followed by a picture of their bodies bundled in a truck on their way to be buried. The coverage then ended.
A week ago, more than 20 Iraqi children who had gathered around US soldiers handing out sweets were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his car in their midst. We were shown pictures of a destroyed street strewn with blood and a bereaved mother sobbing. The viewers were spared images of the maimed bodies of children and it was left to spectators to recreate the scene of the crime before the bomb and afterwards. Once more, the coverage ended.
Both events were shown on satellite television channels. The footage was recorded by correspondents for one of the major international news agencies. Disappointingly, it seemed all channels reproduced the same images.
In between the two incidents, hundreds of Iraqi men, young and old, who make up the security forces, were killed by suicide bombers.
More than any other, the Arab media ought to highlight the growing number of victims in Iraq . In reality, however, coverage of the latest events in Iraq is no longer a priority for many in news organizations across the region. Yet, in-depth coverage resumes when a video by Abu Musab al Zarqawi showcasing a kidnapping or a murder appears.
Victims in Iraq have been reduced to statistics on a piece of paper. On a daily basis, editors in newsrooms across the region trawl through hours of footage and decide whether the number of dead and injured merits a mention in their bulletin. If they decide it is significant enough to be shown, it can only be briefly, before moving on from the monotonous death of innocent Iraqis to more interesting events.
Undoubtedly, covering events in Iraq is difficult. Yet even with limited news, a more humane picture can be presented to the viewers. Coverage should provide answers to questions such as: Who are these young children? What were they doing on that fateful day? Who are the members of that family killed in cold blood? How do Iraqi policemen adapt to the threat of suicide bombers? We need to find out more about daily life in Baghdad and around the country
Disappointingly, it seems our hearts and minds have been overtaken with laziness regarding Iraq .
A number of journalists have expressed pride at the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) decision to replace the word terrorist in its broadcasts with bomber, as if the Arab and Muslim Worlds succeed when a prominent media organization ceases to equate between terrorism and Islam. It seems we forget that the BBC has long debated what terminology best describes certain events. We, on the other hand, continue, without any hesitation, to use the same wording: occupation, resistance, martyrdom.
I wonder if this decision by the BBC has driven the heads of some news channels to evade the truth and forget that the victims of the terrorist suicide bomb, a week ago, were young children. It seems a passing reference to “24 people killed in Iraq ” is enough… and the news is over!