Iraqi Actor's Death May Have Dire Ramifications

It shouldn’t come as any big surprise that another Iraqi was killed on Monday. After all, rampant violence and kidnappings have become commonplace. Yet, it still came as a shock when Walid Hassan, an actor on the popular Iraqi comedy television show “Caricature”, was shot to death. “Caricature” was described in the Washington Post as (“Iraq's version of "Saturday Night Live.")

Hassan’s death may have a very negative impact on the local media, as more reporters fear the consequences of honest reporting and shy away from the job – or produce tainted copy. Without a free press, Iraq has only as slim chance of setting up a free democracy. In addition, many of those inspired by the actor will have a harder time speaking up about the atrocities occurring around them. According to an article in the Washington Post:

“Hassan, 47, a father of five children, became a victim of the war and chaos from which he drew his inspiration. A Shiite Muslim, he was found in the majority-Sunni neighborhood of Yarmouk in west Baghdad with multiple bullet wounds to his back and head, according to police. He was last seen by witnesses in a black car with a driver and two other passengers.

Hassan is by no means the first member of the Iraqi or international media to become a casualty of Iraqi war/unrest. According to The Washington Post:

“Hassan, who also produced a political show, was the latest casualty in the Iraqi media world, which has suffered heavily since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 unleashed a wave of press freedom. So far, 133 reporters, cameramen and other media workers have been killed in Iraq, the vast majority of them Iraqi, according to Reporters Without Borders, a journalists advocacy group.

An Associated Press article printed in the Toronto Sun puts Hassan’s death into perspective:

“In all, 22 Iraqis were killed yesterday in a series of attacks in Baghdad, Ramadi and Baqouba. The bodies of 26 Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured also were found on the streets of the capital, in Dujail and in the Tigris River in southern Iraq.

The Iraqi death toll so far this month is already well above the 1,216 who died in all of October.

The actual totals are likely considerably higher because many violent deaths are not reported. Victims are quickly buried according to Muslim custom and never reach morgues or hospitals to be counted. “

Hassan’s death may have dire ramifications on the Iraqi media. According to the BBC:

“Other broadcasters and journalists working in the Iraqi media have voiced their fears of attack.

"We feel we're all at risk," an unnamed al-Sharqiyah journalist told the Reuters news agency.

"We are all thinking of quitting the station."’

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