‘Jihadi John,’ a bad case of Western-fed narcissism

Legend has it that the British press gave him the nickname “Jihadi John” after none other than the Beatles star John Lennon. As if straight out of a James Bond movie, the British premier has ordered his top security and intelligence agencies to track him down and capture him. All media near and far, headline him and his heinous acts. His despicable videos compete with the Kardashian posterior for eyeballs. As a result, the murderer (allegedly a mediocre rapper previously) revels in his artificially enlarged ego, boasts of his newfound fame, huffs and puffs at world leaders as he performs to the camera.

My grandfather must be turning in his grave at the opportunity of laughing his biggest laugh ever in the face of this most inhumane behavior. His answer to violence in films was laughter that only got louder with the unfathomable acts. From the comfort of knowing this was only acting, he would laugh and repeat, “It’s all nonsensical fiction.” He believed the human nature was above all the hatred shown on screens and that screen violence was only a form of entertainment. So he laughed hard as if to avoid being scared; we learned to do the same and we truly believed that on the screen “the hero never dies.”

Violent and sick

In our reality, this cannot be farther from the truth. As time passes we learn that some humans are extremely violent and sick in their heads and in their hearts. They justify killing, maiming, gassing, torturing, beheading, and ripping families apart. They are more comfortable going back to pre-historic times to impose on others a life of backwardness than finding a way to make their voices heard in this day and age.

We learn that some humans are extremely violent and sick in their heads and in their hearts

Octavia Nasr

Under the pretext of industrialization, globalization, technological advancement and growth, modern societies consistently feed some of the most narcissistic characters. They are bloodier and more lethal than the most fictional characters man has ever imagined. They are fit for scenes in thriller, action and espionage movies. Those who helped create the personae of the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the chief ISIS slaughterer, now pretend to be shocked at their behavior and would like them gone.

In a way, the narcissistic attitudes these terrorists sport are their weakness and will lead to their demise. In the meantime, the sad reality sets in that heroes will continue to fall every day. Unable to change much, we mourn them and move on.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on November 17, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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