Je suis humanité

2015-01-18 15:00

The execution of Charlie Hebdo’s journalists is a brutal crime that has been condemned by righteous people. Attacks on the media, irrespective of where they occur and who the victims are, must elicit a similar response as that of Je suis Charlie.

The tragic irony of the peace march in Paris is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become a poster boy for freedom of speech.

During last year’s attack on Gaza, amid the civilian carnage, another casualty of war received surprisingly little international attention. In what has become part of a systematic targeting of journalists in occupied Palestine, the Israeli Defence Force killed 17 journalists.

There were no peace marches for those dead journalists or collective cries of anguish that freedom of speech was under attack. Neither did we hear statements of condemnation from Western governments, human rights organisations or proponents of free speech.

When Tareq Ayyoub, the Al Jazeera journalist, and his colleagues were deliberately targeted by a US missile that struck the station’s Baghdad bureau in 2003, some of us stood in silent vigil outside the US consulate in Killarney.

It was a little gesture in tribute to a friend, colleague and member of the media family. Why weren’t more voices raised in protest? Did the media buy into the US government’s spin that it was a mistake? Or did the media just not care?

Je suis Tareq, anyone?

According to the latest report of the International Federation of Journalists, 12 journalists were killed in Syria, eight in Iraq and nine in Afghanistan. In these theatres of war, where the US and its allies operate, the lives of these journalists count for less than the Paris 17.

The Islamic State terror group, funded by the US-backed Saudi regime and its allies, has beheaded non-Western journalists. But barely a protest or voice of condemnation has been heard.

Journalists were also killed in Libya, Somalia, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Je suis Désire Sayengan, Je suis Facély Camara? Anyone? Egypt still detains three Al Jazeera reporters on ludicrous charges. Je suis Al Jazeera, anyone?

Our selective horror and indignation feeds into the notion that some lives are more important than others. It also nourishes the view that the struggle for freedom of speech is a Western construct that bearded religious fanatics are compelled to destroy.

We need to oppose the arrogance of exceptionalism and ensure that all in the media family are treated with respect – in life and in death.

Journalists far away from the centres of power, like London, Washington and Paris, are engaged in daily struggles of life, death and torture to bring stories to our newspapers, radios and television screens. They put names and faces to our distant humanity.

The least we can do is remember their names and faces when they fall in the line of duty.

Dawjee is a communications and public affairs consultant

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.