The Innocent Are Sacred
The gruesomeness of the murder of any human can send anyone into a crazed frenzy of bitterness, fright and nausea, especially when the murder is captured on video and sent around the world for all to see. Moreover, just to spice things up, the murder is not just a simple killing; it is a live recorded beheading! And just to top things further, it is not just any Tom, Dick or Harry off the streets – who might not even be worthy of notice to some sick people – though every life is sacred, but a journalist. Yes, someone who gives us information on what is going on around the world has had his or her life taken away by those who oppose the truth being told. Nelson Mandela did say that the freedom of information was ‘the lifeblood of democracy’, hence, the killing of a journalist is to subdue democracy and executed by those who are against democracy and democratic values.
We might have generalised this article into something that covers the sacredness of all those who are innocent, as the title suggests, but the recent beheadings of high profile journalists has caused us to focus on such heroes of information.
To be honest, I have not seen the video film depicting the beheading of the kidnapped US journalist James Foley (August 2014) and nor do I intend to do so, just as I avoided watching any of the videos of the beheadings carried out by belligerents – falsely in the name of Islam, freedom, defence, patriotism, etc., in Iraq after the American-led invasion of Iraq of 2003 – I was sickened to the core after being made to watch the first one. How could anyone with life take a life without justification or legal sanction!
It seems that beheadings have become fashionable by terrorists, be they for whatever reason they may attempt to conjure – to cause fear and spread terror, to subdue the truth, to send a strong message to the opposition, etc. However, journalists, especially those who are in the forefronts of battle and armed conflict, continue to become victims of those who oppose the truth and freedom of information, and James Foley does not seem to be the only one;
- Steven Sotloff, another US journalist was also killed by ISIS (September 2014) – beheaded.
- James Miller, a British freelance cameraman was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the Gaza Strip (April 2006) – shot in the neck.
- Raffaele Ciriello, an Italian photojournalist was killed by IDF gunfire (March 2002) – shot.
- Simone Camilli, an Italian Associated Press journalist was killed in Gaza when an unexploded missile went off while bomb experts were trying to defuse it (August, 2014). Ali Abu Afash, a freelance translator working for The Associated Press was also killed.
- Fadel Shana, a Palestinian Reuters cameraman was killed when an Israeli tank fired on him and other bystanders (April, 2008)
- Rachel Corrie, crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer (March, 2003)
- Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter was killed by militants in Pakistan, (22nd February, 2002) – beheaded.
There are numerous other journalists who have been either abducted and released, abducted and killed, or killed by either party during armed conflict. There are many journalists who have been caught in the crossfire as well.
The safety and protection of journalists is sanctioned by UNESCO’s IPDC (The International Programme for the Development of Communication) as well as many regional and state laws.
The death of any individual, however, should at all times be a cause for concern. All religions oppose the deaths of civilians, be they of only one or of thousands, and that includes the deaths of journalists. The Qur’an clearly sanctifies human life and declares it forbidden for the innocent to be killed:
“…whosoever kills a human being… it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” (Holy Qur’an, 5:32)
Islamic Sacred Law outlaws the killing of any non-combatant, young or old, journalist or otherwise.
Moreover, the teachings of Islam have gone beyond non-combatants and even encouraged the amnesty of combatants as well, such as the enemy soldier who made an attempt on the Prophet Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) life but the sword fell from his hands and the latter picked up the sword and, though in the ultimate position of exacting revenge and beheading the enemy combatant with lawfulness and impunity, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) forgave him and let him go.
The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered victorious into the city where he was born and had lived for more than fifty years, but was exiled by his enemies for over a decade – Makkah; had he willed, he could have supervised an unprecedented bloodbath that mankind had ever witnessed, but no! He forgave those who did not fight, entered the Great Mosque of the Ka‘bah, or the homes of designated persons – such as that of Abu Sufyan.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) granted a general pardon to every guilty person who sought it – such is the magnanimity of Islamic teachings.
It is sad to see Islam being hijacked by those who either know too little about it, or blind vengeance and ill motives tending to lead a minority of people astray and into an abyss of savagery.
Islam outlaws extrajudicial killings, beheadings or otherwise.
Beheadings or no beheadings, the innocent are sacred.