Thanks to Antiwar.com for yesterday’s centerpiece photo of journalist Maya Nasser, a brave young man if there ever was one and the epitome of what conflict-zone journalism is supposed to be but rarely is in the days of military protection in exchange for favorable coverage. Nasser was a Syrian Christian* disgusted and heartbroken by the horrific war in his country and determined to report on it objectively and without the spin of the West-favorite propaganda outlets. He was one of very few to report in English from the war zones in Syria. He was shot in the neck by a US-backed Free Syrian Army sniper as he reported on yet another Syrian rebel bombing in Damascus. He was 33 years old.
Nasser blamed the conflict destroying his country on the machinations of the “west and al-Qaida,” a global partnership whose fruits we recently saw in Benghazi. When Gaddafi said that the Libyan insurgency was an al-Qaeda operation, he was ridiculed in Western press as “crazy.” Likewise when Assad makes the claim he is written off as an hysterical monster.
But what to make of people on the ground like Nasser and, recently, Jacques Beres, the founder of Doctors Without Borders, who returned from assisting in Syria to report that at least half the people he treated were foreign fighters whose goal was less the overthrow of Assad than the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamist state? And we know who is arming and training these foreign extremist fighters.
When the mainstream press is confronted with facts that do not fit its agreed-upon narrative, these facts are simply ignored. They are made to not exist. When that becomes difficult, those reporting the facts are silenced. Witness the UK’s revocation of the broadcasting license of Iran-based PressTV. Witness Maya Nasser, who paid the ultimate price.
There is a personal reason for my sadness over this horrific killing of a young and promising journalist. I began following Maya Nasser on Twitter a few months ago and immediately felt attracted to his warmth, humor, and professionalism. Though I neither met nor corresponded personally with him, his compelling style and personal reporting left all of his followers, I am sure, feeling like personal friends. There are few willing to do what Nasser did. The loss is a loss to humanity. The warmongers and earth destroyers have won another victory. Rest in peace, Mr. Nasser.
*UPDATE: I have been told that Mr. Nasser was actually a Muslim. That would make him a Muslim who desired peace and was disgusted by the attempts of extremists — in Washington, Riyadh, elsewhere — to destroy his country.