In the regional headlines lately is Ketermaya village in Lebanon, where a 38 year old Egyptian worker was apparently lynched by an angry mob:
Mohammed Muslem, a 38-year-old Egyptian reportedly working as a butcher in Ketermaya village, had been arrested on suspicion of shooting dead an elderly couple and their granddaughters aged seven and nine. He is said to have confessed and was leading police officers through the events of the day when dozens of villagers dragged him away from police custody and began beating him with sticks and knives. Some witnesses said police rescued him and took him to a nearby hospital, only for the crowd to break in to the intensive care unit, drag him out and continue to beat him. [source]
While the crime of the Egyptian was horrendous, it goes without saying that the revenge process was equally, if not more horrendous. Such crimes do take place in the world we live in today, more frequently than we like to imagine. They are nothing new by way of shock value and it’s probably because these sort of things are typically carried out by governments, which, generally speaking, people feel disconnected from and often use as a scapegoat for their lack of political and social investment. The government is to blame – as if it were such a holy and foreign entity beyond the reclamation of the people.
But when such an act is carried out by the people themselves – these crimes tend to gather some shock value. It’s perhaps due to the fact that everyone realizes that the people are no longer restrained. Like a quiet and serene ocean, we tend to forget the sheer power that it is capable of exhibiting until a tsunami or a hurricane hits, and destroys an entire city. It’s chaos. It’s sudden power. It’s a domino effect. It’s a building ocean wave that no organized system, such as a government, is capable of stopping.
It’s historical. When a government hangs someone for a crime, it passes unnoticed. If that same criminal is hanged by the people, all hell breaks loose. Justice, which is theoretically intended to be controlled by a single governing entity, is now in the hands of the people who are incapable of delivering it fairly.
Yet, what is most interesting about such incidents in the 21st century is technology. Now that digital media has become so cheap, or almost free, it is in the hands of everyone. From the richest to the poorest. Everyone has a cell phone, even in the remotest of villages where TVs have yet to exist. Camera phones are part of the norm. We take a billion photos. We send them to one another via bluetooth or we put them up on Facebook.
In the case of Ketermaya Village, such cell phones are likely to become police evidence.
By far, the most interesting images to have emerged from this story are that of ladies standing on a balcony, shocked and in horror of what they’re witnessing, yet, simultaneously taking photos with their cell phones.
This reminded of similar images I saw last year when that girl wanted to commit suicide off a building in Amman. Crowds gathered around to photograph and record videos. Remember this photo?
How many people have their phones out? Next time you drive past a terrible car accident in Jordan, take a look at how many people have stopped their cars to take photos with their phones. Even cartoonist Emad Hajjaj has satirized this several times in his work:
So what conclusions can one draw? Is it a demonstration of how powerful a small and simple tool can be in the hands of the average citizen? Is it a demonstration of how such tools have decentralized information, and, for the first time in history, offered the human race an ability to document an event from multiple perspectives and not merely as written by the “pen of the victor”? A demonstration of how a story can now be weaved together by many storytellers; or how bystanders and witnesses can so easily become documentarians? Is it a demonstration of how crowds are capable of producing vast data from multiple angles, to be collected, data mined and analyzed?
Is it a demonstration of the extent to which we have become anesthetized by the horrors that often engulf our region; so much so that we are able to document a lynching or a suicide, while being equally horrified? Is it a demonstration of our continued apathy and/or unwillingness to intervene in the name of what is right, even if a mob is what stands in our way? So much so that our first instinct today, is to reach for our phones to take pictures than to split from the maddening crowd? Is this evidence of schadenfreude; our secret, and sometimes not-so-secret ability to derive pleasure from the misfortune of others?
Or, taking all of the above in to consideration and then offering the most common denominator: is this, simply put, a good thing or a bad thing?
I’m so sorry that you have chosen to look at, and analyse this horrible story from such a very narrow perspective. Knowing you and what you write, I expected a lot more depth.
I find the whole shutter-happy practice to be rather pornographic. What the mere act of shooting an event laced with blood and gore (no matter what facial expressions of horror and disgust are drawn on the face of the “film maker”) tells the world (and the subject of the photo or video clip) “I am from a different specie”. It sort of reminds me of the self-imposed rule of nature journalists: never interfere even if watching and documenting the ongoing perils of the worlds last Panda bear.
Schadenfreude you say? I would begrudgingly nod in agreement.
I tried looking for it on youtube
An article deserve to be read in Al Akhabar news paper “ÙƒØªØ±Ù…Ø§ÙŠØ§ Ø£ÙƒØ«Ø± Ù…Ù† Ù‚Ø±ÙŠØ©”
2. The bystanders
Lebanese in general are violent people (yeah,if you think the LEBANESE are LBC,star academy people, then I have to tell you that you have not left Jordan and you know nothing).
I think, I would not be surprised to see something similar happening in Jordan, considering the past incidints of tribal fights at universities,cities.
We have to ask, why the Arab societies are violent? Iraq (those killings are by Arabs), Algeria massacres,Jor street fighitngs,Lebanon lynching and civil war (Muslims vs. Christians, Christians vs Christians violent and bloody). Hamas killing Fatah people by throwing them of buildings or street lynching as in Madhoon’s case
What’s wrong with us?
your words almost brought tears to my eyes. This is absolutely not a good thing, the image of the horrified women taking pictures was just comically scary. It reminds me of an incident that happened a while ago when Amman witnessed the bombings of three hotels, a girl I know was near one of the hotels when the incident happened and when I found out I went to over to see how she was doing. when I first asked her if she was doing o.k , she had this sparkle in her eyes and she unlocked her cell phone to show me a picture of a flying head that she caught when it all happened, she had a look of immense satisfaction in her eyes.
so yes it is a demonstration of the extent to which we have become anesthetized by the horrors
a demonstration of our continued apathy and/or unwillingness to intervene in the name of what is right
and our ability to derive pleasure from the misfortune of others. It’s all very human, very sad.
“We have to ask, why the Arab societies are violent? Iraq (those killings are by Arabs), Algeria massacres,Jor street fighitngs,Lebanon lynching and civil war (Muslims vs. Christians, Christians vs Christians violent and bloody). Hamas killing Fatah people by throwing them of buildings or street lynching as in Madhoonâ€™s case
Whatâ€™s wrong with us?” Shocked
let me say one thing here nothing wrong with us we are like everybody and maybe less violent than other, according to this UN report
Let us talk facts and researched studies by United Nation development Agency,ØªÙ‚Ø±ÙŠØ± Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù…Ù… Ø§Ù„Ù…ØªØØ¯Ù‡ Ø§Ù„Ø¨Ø±Ù†Ø§Ù…Ø¬ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù†Ù…Ø§Ø¦ÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ø¹Ø§Ù… 2009 .ØªÙ‚Ø±ÙŠØ± Ø¨Ø±Ù†Ø§Ù…Ø¬ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù…Ù… Ø§Ù„Ù…ØªØØ¯Ø© Ø§Ù„Ø¥Ù†Ù…Ø§Ø¦ÙŠ Ù„Ù€ 2009
FACTS and statistic by UN, murders and killing around the world .
The Arab World murder rate,1 in 1000.
United states 8 in 1000.
Europe 3 in 1000.
South America 26 in 1000.
South Africa 29 in 1000.
NOW who is more violent?????????
Caribbeans 30 in 1000.
@hend: im disappointed that you had nothing of value to add to the conversation i was trying to kickstart.
@ameen: interesting, the rule you were talking about is one that i was thinking of very consciously when writing this post. specifically the picture of the sudanese girl and the vulture, taken by kevin carter, whom many believe to have taken his own life mainly due to this photo and the fact that he didn’t interfere. that was in 1993. it’s 2010 now and everyone is a photographer. all around us are tragedies begging to be documented.
@yazan: if you find something let me know (p.s. congrats on the revamp! looks good!)
@TFJ: interesting read thanks
@Shocked: I was going to reply but I think the free jordanian provided a basic contextual argument that i think is valid, and that’s just scratching the surface. violence in the arab world doesn’t even measure up to other nations. which is not to say that it is not a problem. but context matters.
I first read the story on BBC.com. I read that the mob lifted the dead man with a butcher’s hook. That made me think: whose idea was it? Who volunteered the hook? You will surprised at how industrious mobs can be. In Nigeria, and elsewhere in Africa, mob justice is quite common. A famous treatment meted out to an unlucky thief (even for stealing petty stuff) or other more serious criminals is the “necklace”. Basically, a car tire is thrown around a person’s neck and is set alight with the aid of petrol. The victim burns to death — of course, there are more graphic descriptions of what actually happens. The curious thing about this practice is again the industriousness of the mob: who donates the tire? Where does the mob get the petrol from, especially in Nigeria, where fuel scarcity is endemic and unyielding?
@anas: interesting perspective. i haven’t read too much about it, but there is a whole field on crowd psychology that has always interested me. the act of convergence, resourcefulness, leadership, and movement is incredibly fascinating given the fact that all of this usually happens within a matter of minutes.
think of anything that requires participation and how powerful a force that can be. for instance, many people do “the wave” in football stadiums, but last year during the Gaza protests in Amman I remember a group of people starting to stomp their feet on the ground like bulls, encouraging others to follow suit. this was basically a prelude to a stampede against the police barricade. both are essentially the same thing: human power – but used for different purposes in different contexts.
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The next step for Arabs is to produce TV shows about gore and violence, sort of like what US TV networks have been airing for years under the guise of law and order entertainment. You can see some of it on late MBC2 shows. Enjoy.
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Mass killing,lynching,people gathering to watch someone committing suicide,heck even encouraging them to do it while cheering and clapping is unheard of.
Don’t compare crimes rate of under developed nations with industrial nations,it’s unfair because societies,values are different.
in our cultures,violence is encouraged,be it against kufar,enemies or whatever.
The nature if the crime , the way it was carried out, is unheard of,at least in the past 5 decades.
Something wrong with ppl who cheer and turn a very sad scene into some festive orgy of laughs and video capturing.
“Mass killing,lynching,people gathering to watch someone committing suicide,heck even encouraging them to do it while cheering and clapping is unheard of.”
Oh yea, take a look at this :”shocked” James Byrd, Jr. (May 2, 1949 â€“ June 7, 1998) was an African-American who was murdered in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. The murderers, Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King, wrapped a heavy logging chain around his ankles, hooked the chain to a pickup truck, and then dragged Byrd about three miles along a macadam pavement as the truck swerved from side to side. Death came when Byrd’s body hit the edge of a culvert, which cut off his arm and head. The murderers unchained his torso and left it on the shoulder of the road in front of the town’s black cemetery. His lynching-by-dragging gave impetus to passage of a Texas hate crimes law, and, later, the federal hate crimes law, officially known as the October 22, 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the “Matthew Shepard Act”. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on October 28, 2009. By the way, if you want more cases, I will be more than glad to provide you with many incidence with PHOTOS I promise.
“Donâ€™t compare crimes rate of under developed nations with industrial nations,itâ€™s unfair because societies,values are different.” why not, we live on the same planet and came from the same mother, aren’t we O yea , How is it different, please enlighten me ?, maybe I have been missing this” information” since I have been living in the west for the last 30 years
“The nature if the crime , the way it was carried out, is unheard of,at least in the past 5 decades.
Let me repeat , yes we have violence but the rate of crimes in the ARAB WORLD IS lot less than your “civilized” AND “developed” countries . period
“Ù„Ø³Ø§ Ø§Ù„Ø¬Ø¯ Ù…Ø§ Ø¨Ø¯Ø§”, mhmd
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Free JO, you and Nas are just in complete denial. Keep sticking your head in the sand and turn a blind eye on the hateful culture we’ve breed. Be it religious teachings or streets culture.
Honor’s crime approval ratings?Despite all the BS displayed officially, 95% of the population is in favor.
So now we blame the west?It’s a conspiracy?Yeah sure, some people want the Arabs to think they are violent and of not value? Then who is making all these killings?
Your arguments are shallow.Both of you.
I really don’t trust those statistics. THe entirety of the world is made up of violent mobs, in some places it is easier to estimate than others, in some other places it is not reported. We are also trained to look at things nowadays I think, trained to capture and photograph every second of our reality. And most people do not think of this capturing of reality at all. The violence and voyeuristic aspects are more a conversation about human nature rather than the spewing out of statistics. Mob mentalities will take over. The most interesting mob experiment I’ve seen was Bobby McFerrin making an entire audience hum the pentatonic scale by correlating two notes on his position on a stage. That’s a good use of mob mentality, this violent killing is obviously a bad one.
The thing is, I’m not really sure if its a societal thing, or if its a human thing. I’d like to believe its societal due to my optimism about the human race, and I believe in the possibility of this entire society to improve. Why did someone feel the need to execute him? Do most people think that jail is not enough as a punishment, I see this case of the village as anarchy ruling over an authority and though it is localised and unsustainable it says a lot about what people actually think of those presiding over them.
“o now we blame the west?Itâ€™s a conspiracy?Yeah sure, some people want the Arabs to think they are violent and of not value? Then who is making all these killings?
Your arguments are shallow.Both of you.”
Who is blaming the west ? IF YOU READ MY COMMENT CAREFULLY ,YOU WOULD NOT PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH, NO BODY MENTION THE WORLD WEST HERE, NOT ME OR NAS OR ANY CONSPIRACY THEORY .
i BROUGHT STATISTIC FROM THE UN DEVELOPMENT REPORT FOR THE YEAR 2009, IN RETURN , YOU BRING RANTING AND BLABBING THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT WE ARE DISCUSSING HERE
SHOW ME FACTS DOCUMENTS, STUDIES, AND NUMBERS THEN WE COULD MAYBE COME TO SOME KIND OF AGREEMENT..THANK YOU
R,,,, WHO WOULD YOU TRUST? THE NUMBERS AND DATA FROM UN DEVELOPMENT REPORTS , I DO NOT THINK OR BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE BIASED BECAUSE IT DEALS WITH ALL THE COUNTRIES AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO TAKE SIDES AND THEIR METHODOLOGY IS SCIENTIFICALLY VERIFIED AND SCRUTINIZED ..
“Free JO, you and Nas are just in complete denial. Keep sticking your head in the sand and turn a blind eye on the hateful culture weâ€™ve breed. ”
Who invited this ‘Shocked’ Israeli?
@Ayash: so anyone who disagrees with the ‘Arab street’ is Israeli now? I agree with Shocked… We are hideous and hateful, and I am as Arab as ur Jordanian stache… We are a frustrated society that really needs some help hopping on the globalization bandwagon.
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Where is the beef?