Remembering the victims

In the wake of the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve, many Egyptians were more interested in following the death toll and singing to the tune of national unity than in alleviating the pain of the victims’ families.

It's true that tears will not bring back the dead victims but showing respect for their mourning families should have formed the core of media coverage. Al-Masry Al-Youm may have been an exception with its focused reporting on the victims’ suffering.

This is not a call for grief, but an attempt to draw attention to the Egyptian media’s treatment of the issue, which has turned the spotlight on state officials while ignoring the plight of the victims and their families. The media has disregarded the small details–the people who experienced the tragedy–in favor of the bigger picture. In a top-down approach,the state press focused primarily on President Hosni Mubarak’s speech and Pope Shenouda’s appeal for calm following the attack.

On Coptic Christmas Eve, Egyptian TV stars appeared together on one program with carefully selected hosts, where they failed to show respect for the bereaved families, especially as one presenter insisted it was a “happy” day for Egypt. During the breaks between segments, pictures of the talk show presenters were displayed, rather than those of the  bombing victims or those who took to the streets in solidarity.

Regrettably, we still avoid frank public discussions about the victims of any attack in order to avoid stirring up trouble and tension. This reluctance is both unprofessional and inhumane; it reflects a twisted political culture that constantly brushes aside innocent victims.

Indeed, we should always remember the victims be they of the 2010 Naga Hammadi Christmas shootings, the New Year’s Eve Church blast or the al-Salam 98 ferry that sank in the Red Sea in February 2006. All the victims of negligence, sectarianism and terrorism must be honored.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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