Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warning: No Journalists Allowed

Beverly GiesbrechtA Canadian journalist who was kidnapped in Pakistan last November, and is still being held hostage for US $375,000 (although some reports say $2 million), said this is a new video made by her captors:

"I am going to be beheaded just like the Polish engineer [Peter Stanczak], probably by the end of the month. The deadline is by the end of March, and that's basically, I don't know, 18 days or 16 days.”

"I'm not quite sure how long that is but the time is very short and my life is going to end."

Beverly Giesbrecht converted to Islam after the 9/11 attacks and now runs Jihad Unspun, a website which claims to provide "a clear view of the U.S. war on 'terrorism'" and information that is "devoid of the constraints of mainstream media." She now prefers to be called Khadija Abdul Qahaar (although many of the articles on her kidnapping use her former name).

These are some of the harsh comments from a CTV article and a Globe and Mail article on the video’s release. There weren’t many on each (only 10 comments all together), but there seemed to be a trend towards blaming Qahaar for her own kidnapping:

As a journalist she put herself in harms way in order to obtain a story that would be considered a scoop. She knew the risks that she was taking what the consequences would be should she be captured, hoping that she could beat the odds, and collect a sizeable payment for doing so. Now that she has been kidnapped the expectation is for our federal government to come to the rescue at great expense to the taxpayers and to negotiate with her captors for her release. She took her chances and lost,end of story. it was her own doing.


As a journalist, she has put herself in harms way and has become an author of her own misfortune. I would not pay any ransom as that encourages other pseudo journalists to act so irresponsibly.

…this woman put herself in harms way for the sake of writing a story and being a journalist! Actions like this sometimes have consequences and now the people are expected to bail her by paying a ransom. Another load unto the taxpayers!

Eat Your Weedies
I am sad for her. It's tough to watch someone plead for their life. However, it's also sad to watch a fool make foolhardy decisions. She had no business going there in the first place. Whatever her name, she's a blond Canadian dealing with illiterate, ignorant, hot heads.

Bill Williams
Bye Bye Babe. You made the decision to go there, now suffer the consequences. Bad choice on your part, but, hey, that's the type of decisions idealist bleeding hearts make. Why should the rest of us be responsible for her well being.

Peter StanczakOf course the woman had a choice not to go to such a dangerous area, but blaming her for getting herself kidnapped just for a story isn’t only an insult to her, but to journalists who actually are willing to report from such dangerous areas, Stanczak, the engineer who was kidnapped for ransom in September 2008 and murdered by Pakistani Taliban last month (the key word here is engineer, not journalist), and the area's citizens, who are also victims of these kidnappings and executions.

Blaming Qahaar for going somewhere she knew was dangerous also ignores the idea that because it is so dangerous it almost necessitates journalists going there to expose exactly what’s happening.

Isn’t that was journalists do?

When a firefighter is killed on the job, no one says, “Oh well, he knew what he was getting into.” Definitely not. I realize there might be more of an immediate need to put out fires, but why is it different for journalists when they're harmed or killed for doing their job? Isn't the truth important too?

As some of the commentators already mentioned, Qahaar knew the stakes and is now asking for help from them, which I guess seems contradictory.

But to just say the hell with her doesn’t make us (“the innocent taxpayers”) any less “ignorant” or criminal than those who are literally holding her life in their hands. It also gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.

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