Media, Reporters and Truth

As Americans, we have a love/hate relationship with the media. We will defend to the death freedom of the press; but, will say horrible things about those who do not agree with us in or on any form of media. In fact, even newspapers have given up, to a large degree, verifying facts. Nevertheless, we take quiet pride in those members of the press who go in to war torn countries or go to jail for a controversial story. We mourn over those who die trying to bring the “truth” to us. Many counties in the western world have the same ambiguous feelings toward members of the media. Pilot asked, “What is truth?” For centuries, humankind has been trying to find it.

In Afghanistan members of the “press” and other media who search for the truth, are in danger daily from fatwas against the media from certain imans, as well as constant threats from the Taliban. Last week the Taliban carried out its threat. Three young persons working for Tolo TV were murdered by the Taliban because, the Taliban said that the media company had broadcast, “exaggerated reports about Taliban fighters committing crime in Kunduz”, a northern city in that country. The young reporters were killed in a suicide explosion.

When the mother of one of the reporters, Jawad Hussaini, was informed, of his death, she and other family members went from hospital to hospital trying to find the body of the young man. Identifying bodies of persons blown up is difficult. Because Jawad Hussaini had a chipped tooth, his family began looking into the mouths of all of the victims to find Jawad. (Can you imagine the raw courage it took to identify the body of this loved one?) The body of Jawad was found. His brother, frustrated with the government’s identification system, promised revenge. Against whom, I am not sure – the Taliban or the government.

It is my understanding that seeking revenge is part of Arab culture. However, the instrument of that revenge in 21st Century Afghanistan will not be the brother.

“Our sister is a second lieutenant in the army, she is a lioness. They killed our brother in the trench of freedom, but she will avenge it”.

It is my hope that the family of Jawad Hussaini will find comfort in the fact that Jawad died doing his job, just as the families of the victims of the 9/11 bombing found comfort and resolution knowing that their loved ones, especially the firemen and policemen, did their jobs in the face of death. One truth is certain, all families mourn their dead.

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