Les­son from Paris

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Muna Al-Fuzai lo­cal@kuwait­times.net

The bloody events in Paris last week claimed the lives of dozens of peo­ple and in­jured scores of oth­ers, pro­vok­ing anger and panic. De­spite the large num­ber of news re­ports and analy­ses about the ter­ror­ists, the per­pe­tra­tors of the crime and the loss of in­no­cent lives, the sanc­tity of the dead in France and re­spect for the grief their par­ents and friends were main­tained. No pho­tos were pub­lished of the bod­ies or faces of the dead, nor did their par­ents come in front of cam­eras scream­ing and threat­en­ing reprisals. It is a cul­ture that we do not know in the Mid­dle East. It is a les­son from Paris, the cap­i­tal of cul­ture.

Why were no pic­tures or videos about the dead and wounded in Paris pub­lished, while their bod­ies were ripped apart? Why did they re­frain from run­ning any im­ages, es­pe­cially since th­ese are tragic, shock­ing and painful pic­tures? The an­swer is sim­ple - it is re­lated to cul­tural dif­fer­ences that we don’t know any­thing about in the Mid­dle East.

On Mid­dle East TV chan­nels, hardly a day goes by with­out a news bul­letin buzzing with im­ages of killed and dead peo­ple, re­gard­less if they are ter­ror­ists who caused the killing of in­no­cents or peo­ple who were killed in the bomb­ings. The screams of par­ents are news head­lines. Some pre­sen­ters even con­duct in­ter­views with ter­ror­ists, as if they de­serve com­pas­sion and sym­pa­thy.

Th­ese souls were im­por­tant to their fam­i­lies and loved ones, and the French gov­ern­ment could have taken ad­van­tage of this tragic event and filled the me­dia with im­ages of the dead and wounded to mar­ket what they want, as Arabs usu­ally do in th­ese sit­u­a­tions. Isn’t this what the Arab me­dia did, es­pe­cially in the past pe­riod, with a lot of Syr­ian refugees flee­ing their coun­try?

The French re­spect their dead and re­spect the pri­vacy of each in­di­vid­ual in their com­mu­nity. They also tend to pro­tect the hu­man­ity of the so­ci­ety and in­di­vid­u­als to avoid see­ing harsh scenes that have neg­a­tive ef­fects. This is a les­son of cul­ture - I wish we know bet­ter than to mar­ket our mis­eries and fail­ures.

When a painful event oc­curs here, pho­tos of the event im­me­di­ately be­come a topic on all tools of so­cial me­dia. Some will rush to pub­lish or re-pub­lish them with­out any heed of the rights of the vic­tims or their fam­i­lies. Even the so-called in­tel­lec­tu­als and ed­u­cated peo­ple will be in­volved in this brazen act when for­ward­ing pic­tures of the in­jured and the dead with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of the psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact on their loved ones, as well as the re­cip­i­ents of th­ese im­ages.

It’s a cul­ture of re­spect for the dead and their pain - a cul­ture we do not know in the Mid­dle East, as we enjoy pub­lish­ing pic­tures of the dead and wounded even if they were in­volved in road ac­ci­dents. We do this brazenly with­out re­spect for their pri­vacy. Worse, when pub­lish­ing pic­tures of ter­ror­ists and their fam­i­lies, we are try­ing to find an ex­cuse for their crimes.

Re­spect for pri­vacy dur­ing and af­ter a painful in­ci­dent is in­deed a dif­fer­ent cul­ture we have here in the Arab so­ci­ety. I call on my­self first, then oth­ers, to take cues from Paris’ sad les­son and not send any im­age re­lated to the killing or wound­ing of in­no­cent peo­ple in or­der to pre­serve and re­spect their pri­vacy. France is teach­ing us a great les­son even in hard times like th­ese.

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