I am really shocked by the horrifying news today of the murder of Alarabiya reporter Atwar Bahjat and her crew in Samarra, Iraq.
Two gunmen pulled up in a pickup truck, shooting in the air and shouting: "We want the correspondent," The Associated Press quoted Al-Arabiya as reporting. "Atwar was in the news van and shouted to the crowd to help her."
"The crew tried to speak to the gunmen, but they snatched them and took them [to] an unknown location. By this time, night had fallen," Reuters quoted Al-Arabiya’s Baghdad correspondent Ahmed al-Saleh as telling viewers. Saleh said the bodies had been dumped near the town of Dawr near Samarra. All three were Iraqi citizens. Source: [CNN]
I met Atwar briefly last year in Doha, Qatar. I remember her as being so extremely friendly. I’m really just appalled by such a cold-blooded murder. May her soul rest in peace. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued a statement on the killings:
We are horrified by this appalling act. We will never stop repeating that journalists are neutral and vital observers. They are neither combatants nor targets to be shot down. Their work must be protected and respected, whatever their nationality and regardless of which media they work for.
… A total of 82 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the start of the war in Iraq. Seven of them have died since 1st January 2006, making this start of the year the most deadly in three years. Atwar Bahjat is the 7th woman journalist to be killed since the war in Iraq began.
The situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse by the day. When will all this mayhem come to an end once and for all!
The irony in all whats happening, is that you come to know people only when they get killed, shot, abducted.
Well. You do know how things where in Tal Afar right? When taken over by terrorists, step one was to remove existing religious leaders and replace them with pro-Jihad ones. Step 2 – drive out teachers and replace them with 5th grade educated fools preaching hate. Step 3 – Kill a bunch of people. Step 4 – Establish special schools, one for bombers, one for RPG units, one for propoganda, etc.
To these people journalists are not neutral and vital observers. They are people that might report the truth of what they are doing, the truth of their failures and report things that contradict the propoganda they want spread. The worst thing is, the fewer reporters that can go out and find real information, the more likely that the jihadi propoganda will find its way to the press, instead of facts. And in fact, what you hear the most from those in the press that are the most disconnected from events are a) official death reports, b) inaccurate and incomplete information from the military (due to the number of secret guarders it goes through first), what Al Jezeera said about X, and *maybe* occationally some unbiased information from Iraqi informants, some of whom could all too easilly be turned, may have some sectarian biases they can’t deal with properly, or worse, might never have truely been working for the good guys in the first place.
And I have begun to seriously wonder if my dear President here isn’t intentionally *not* trying to correct the misinformation, in order to keep us distracted from similarly fundimentalist BS, like the recent discovery that his appointee to NASA was a) a fundie creationist, b) faked his credentials and c) was busy trying to rewrite NASA documents to distort some of the science and make them more “Christian”, which in this case means the 10% that differ from Jihadi in philosphy only in the use of lawsuits and claims that everyone else is an atheist, instead of suicide bombers, to get what they want.
so, so, so incredibly sad. A huge and tragic loss to the journalism community in Baghdad. The men who did this are truly evil and cruel. Another sad outcome is that even fewer reporters will be able to go out and tell us what’s going on in Iraq. We’ll have to depend more on the US government and we wont understand what’s really happening there.