Saluting Tunisia’s human shield

Seifeddine Rezgui killed dozens of tourists on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, before trying to escape and being shot dead by security forces. Last summer, Israeli helicopters killed four Palestinian children as they played on a beach in Gaza. Cameras documented their innocent play as well as their tragic deaths. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) carried out a horrific mass execution on a Libyan beach.

Beaches, which should be beautiful and friendly places, have become scenes of terror. The death of any innocent must be condemned and rejected, but why do certain cases receive more attention than others? Factors include the location, the victims’ nationalities, and media access.

Videos showed a human shield formed by Tunisian men and women around tourists. These men and women must be remembered as a light amid the darkness

Diana Moukalled

However, the Sousse attack garnered more interest because it was documented by survivors’ smartphones, so there was information, footage and emotional narration of what happened. All this helped deliver different journalistic material.

Rezgui was a fan of music and football, but adopted an extremist ideology. His biography, and the photo of him in shorts on the beach carrying a machinegun shows how ambiguous the line is between what we assume is an ordinary man and an extremist. However, the location – a beach – elevated the status of the tragedy.

Several videos documented the massacre, so it would have been difficult for the media to ignore them and not provide expanded coverage. The Sousse attack was distinguished by videos of Tunisians trying to protect fleeing tourists and deter Rezgui.

What happened in Sousse stirs anger and grief, but videos showed a human shield formed by Tunisian men and women around tourists. These men and women must be remembered as a light amid the darkness, a light that will keep our beaches beautiful and wash away memories of horror, which hopefully will become part of the past.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 8, 2015.

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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

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