Value of human life tested by the Charlie Hebdo attack

Journalists seek the truth and believe in its sacred mission to know, speak and report. We usually band together like a cult and stand in solidarity when our freedom is compromised.

This notion is new to the Arab world where competition, ad sales, personal vendettas, and political agendas remain the driving force behind reporting, altering how news is witnessed and dictated to the masses.

While change has started, it is moving at a slow pace as agendas reign over the profession at the expense of integrity, objectivity and balance.

To question the reaction, distract towards another conflict, justify, blame the victims or give the killers excuses, is inhumane

Octavia Nasr

The Charlie Hebdo massacre garnered international attention and generated massive outcry in support of the victims, most of whom are journalists. They were targeted for their thought; they were killed in cold blood as they gathered at their workplace to do their job. Their “crime” is that they expressed something the terrorists did not like.

Beloved Lebanon

My beloved Lebanon has lost too many to count brilliant thought leaders, change makers and journalists to similar terrorists, making its free people’s solidarity organic and effective.

If you value life, this is a bloody crime that must be denounced, condemned, fought with all the might available to you. To question the reaction, distract towards another conflict, justify, blame the victims or give the killers excuses, is inhumane.
But those who sold their voices to the highest bidder and exchanged their humanity for cheap political gain cannot understand solidarity for a good cause. They questioned and ridiculed those of us who condemned.

Massacre in a peaceful country

When you work in war zones or areas of conflict, you expect violence and you prepare for it. Respectable media organizations provide staff with appropriate training and sufficient security to insure duties are performed as safely as possible. Loss of life in a war zone is not any less valued than elsewhere but it is a part of what you sign up for as a journalist. To be the victim of a brutal attack such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre in a peaceful country that welcomes diversity and provides everyone equally with the freedoms to speak, import traditions and cultures and practice them freely, is the epitome of barbarism. France has traditionally welcomed those needing refuge from tyrannical regimes and barbaric lifestyles, including the terror brothers and their families. France is not Yemen or Libya or Lebanon or Iraq or Syria. France is a hub for life lovers to prosper and freedom seekers to thrive.

We must stand with the victims and express our dismay loudly at any price. Otherwise, we will lose to fanaticism. If the latter is your choice, you might as well bow your head and wait for the sword of backwardness to take you out or live in slavery to ruthless, mindless and godless “things” that happen to be empowered by your silence and submission.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on January 13, 2015.


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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