Raed Fares, who was among the most prominent critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad's brutal regime, was assassinated on November 23, 2018. (Image source: Oslo Freedom Forum/Reka Nyari/Wikimedia Commons)
While the October 2 murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, continues to be discussed across the world, the November 23 assassination of a Syrian journalist, Raed Fares, and his devoted friend and cameraman, Hammoud al-Jneid, gunned down in Fares's home village of Kafrandel, Syria, does not.
In 2013, Fares posted a satirical YouTube video depicting cave men repeatedly killed by the men representing the Syrian government as men wearing American and European Union flags idly sit by. "This is how the international community reacted to the genocide committed by Assad against the Syrian people," Fares wrote.
Fares was also a key voice in the "Arab Spring," and he daily challenged Assad as well as terrorist organizations operating in Syria, such as the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah. According to The New Yorker:
Three years before his assassination, to the day, Fares posted a photo on Facebook of a protest banner lampooning the fact that other countries were fighting proxy wars in Syria: "BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL OFFER, WHOEVER WHEREVER YOU ARE, BRING YOUR ENEMY AND COME FIGHT IN SYRIA FOR FREE (FREE LAND & SKY) LIMITED TIME OFFER."
"In the absence of peaceful, democratic political voices," Fares noted in an op-ed for The Washington Post, "terrorists have been able to convince Syria's vulnerable youth that violence and destruction can somehow pave the way to stability." One can view his talk to the Oslo Freedom Forum here. In an interview with NPR, Fares said:
"... Jabhat al-Nusra tried to bomb my car. And I was in it, but I survived. And December, 2014, Jabhat al-Nusra, they kidnapped me from their checkpoint, and three days in their jail. They hanged me to the ceiling for six hours. But an activist in Istanbul, he came and talked to them and convinced them to release me. And earlier this year, they attacked my Radio Fresh station and attacked the Women's Center, which belongs to us."
In 2013, Fares established Radio Fresh, where he bravely broadcast support for the Syrian civilian population, without regard to their religious affinities. In 2014, he escaped being murdered at the hands of ISIS.
From that time on, he was targeted by both the Assad regime and the Islamist militias whom he constantly criticized and satirized for their human-rights abuses and totalitarianism.
Although many mainstream media outlets have reported on the murder, their coverage of it is so far less than that of Khashoggi, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
What is the difference between the two cases, each of which involved the targeted killing of an Arab journalist with Arab state involvement?
One probable reason is that Khashoggi not only wrote for the Washington Post, but was allegedly killed at the behest -- or at least knowledge -- of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States. The ongoing story of Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, more than being a function of concern for the Saudi journalist, was yet another opportunity to bash the Trump administration.
Ironically, the same members of the media who have been obsessed with Khashoggi and the Saudi-US alliance have devoted little space to the reality that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been imprisoning, torturing and killing journalists for years.
The mainstream media have also not devoted much attention to the October 2017 car-bombing that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who led the "Panama Papers" corruption investigation into her government -- a member state of the European Union.
How come the murders of Fares, al-Jneid and Galizia did not merit as much media attention as that of Khashoggi? Evidently, calling countries such as Malta and Syria to task appears to be less important to Western journalists than attacking the Trump administration.
Peter Baum, Vice Chair at New Fair reporting, is based in Great Britain.