Thursday, October 20, 2011

Picture perfect?

It is a bright and breezy day here on the east end of the Island after a day of torrential, even tropical rain and flooding. Now the temperature shows signs of dropping, as the unseasonal warmth and humidity of the past few weeks have denied the autumn its place. Even the large pumpkins, decorating the farm stands, have been baking in the heat!

The fall beauty (and for reasons deeply buried it remains my favorite time of the year) has been tainted this morning by the news emerging from Libya. Of course the slow, if violently uncoordinated advance of the National Transitional Council fighters is to be welcomed, and the eventual capture of the Gaddafi hometown of Sirte creates a huge milestone in the confused war of liberation. Then the major headlines. First the story that Gaddafi had been captured, and then the “read-all-about-it” announcement that he had been killed. A sense of the unreal, or is it surreal, colours everything. Is it true? After four decades of extraordinary rule and despotism is this man, call him Colonel or Muammar, really dead?

As if to prove the point certain media channels, the BBC and CNN being the prime international western outlets but Al-Arabiya TV and Al Jazeera must be included, have chosen to paste a head and shoulders photograph of a bloodstained, dead Gaddafi on their front pages. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I believe this to be unnecessary and even ghoulish. What is achieved other than sensationalism and disrespect, no matter how evil the man had been in his lifetime? There is also the affront to many Muslims, in particular those in the more conservative nations. Islamic teaching (ahadith) prohibits pictures being taken or displayed for reasons of hatred or mockery. If this pictorial journalism is not either of those motives then what is it? It is all rather uncalled for, disquieting, and unworthy of a self-styled civilized society.


susan s. said...

All the comments about whether or not bin Laden was dead may have been the motivation, since no pictures of him have ever been seen publicly.

Tim Lewis said...

I think not, Susan. The decision by the American administration not to show images of the dead Osama bin Laden was based on sensitivity to the muslim world, and made collectively and cooly in a planning room. The (apparent) assassination of Gaddafi appears, given present evidence, to be at the hands of an Islamist mob.