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Making sense of packaged terrorism

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 19, 2009
Its not the acts of terrorism that matter most in the post-9/11 world, its what we are told to think about the acts of terror.

The brave new world of murders and restrictions

With terrorism rampant in the world, what is most disturbing is the governments control (and thus manipulation) on the media coverage of the theatre of operationsin terms of restricting access to the war zones (embed restrictions) or killing of journalists. Consider these facts:

•    Among the first killed by the Hutus during the genocide in Rwanda were 14 local journalists.

•    How many people know that for the past decade Algeria has been ravaged by war that has left an estimated 100,000 dead? Not many, because both sides in that conflict have taken turns murdering journalists: 60 at last count. Same in Chechnya.

•    Many dont seem to be noticing that there is less and less coverage of the war in Iraq. By the summer of 2008, noted the New York Times, there were only half a dozen Western photographers covering the country, even though 150,000 American and 4,100 British troops remained engaged there. Why? Because of the danger, the high cost to financially ailing media outlets and diminished interest among Americans in following the war.

To ensure free and fair coverage of terrorism, the priority must be to build civil societies, including media, from inside out and the ground up, suggests the author. In conclusion, she says that we need to move beyond spin, ask questions because we dont have all the answers, and evaluate what we are being told. We need a vibrant, spirited, diverse, and pluralistic media at home and around the world, she says.

To deal with the global curse of terrorism, the media needs to rise above all kinds of boundaries and re-evaluate their exceptionalism. Dr Moeller aptly recalls Dr Martin Luther Kings message: A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. (Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, 1967).

If we do not act, added Dr King for action, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin.

Even though it seems to be too late, can we still begin now?

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia portal.


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