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The Media and The Haditha Massacre - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Is it humane to continue sending journalists to Iraq and subjecting them to such ruthless danger?

This question has become a dilemma for many editors of major newspapers and international news networks, especially with the continuous hostage taking and killing of journalists in Iraq. Only last week, two British journalists were killed and an American journalist was seriously injured by a car bomb in Baghdad.

The debate between correspondents and their editors concerning the necessity to show Iraq in an accurate light and not to part of the professional “propaganda apparatus” in the White House or the Pentagon has been endless. There is an increasing need to transmit news about the daily catastrophes in a manner that touches on the real misery survived by Iraqis.

Perhaps the return of the Haditha massacre, which took place in November 2005, to the center of media attention, indicates in a way the persistence of independent media coverage in Iraq. Correspondents who decided to go to Iraq despite the challenges in security, without doubt, have presented features of the crisis, which would have been inconceivable if correspondents were prevented from visiting Iraq because of the high risks involved. In this context, the renowned British journalist John Simpson believes that the situation in Iraq is not an extremely dangerous one to work in if the journalist is sensitive, cautious and lucky!

A few months ago, the media had broadcast pictures of the Haditha massacre at the hands of American soldiers, according to some eyewitness reports. American security authorities are currently investigating the matter. Last week, western and British media had repeated the detailed account of a young Iraqi child who had lost her family in the massacre. The broadcast of this testimony caused the media to refocus on the atrocities committed by American and British forces in Iraq.

Certainly, the Haditha massacre that followed the Abu Ghraib scandal has a number of lessons that should never be dealt with in a hurried or abrupt manner. The Haditha massacre would not have been discovered had it not been for the western media. The arena of condemnation has been the world and not only Iraq.

The condemnation of any uncovered massacre in Iraq remains limited; however, if the condemnation is received on an international scale, this means additional opposition against the perpetrators. The main question here nevertheless is where and how to present this discovered news material.

Why has the Arab media not presented any findings or real discoveries concerning the violations of human rights that are committed by coalition forces in Iraq? Such a question takes us back to a vital point that global conscience, when it is awakened, is more capable in calling parties to account than the Arab conscience that is only strong in its rhetoric speeches and its ambiguous and selective nature.

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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