If the public ever sees the video of Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah, it could be through Al Jazeera, which reportedly received a flash drive containing the footage Merah shot as he carried out his campaign of murder, but it's doubtful the network will decide to show it. Al Jazeera is known for airing graphic footage from war zones, such as Muammar Qaddafi's death, but it usually does so in order to further a story or to illustrate what a situation is like on the ground. Video would do neither in the Toulouse story.
Le Parisien broke the news that Al Jazeera's French bureau had received the footage, which came in a letter dated the same day as the standoff with police in which Merah was shot to death. Al Jazeera reportedly handed the video to police, who authenticated it.
While the Qatar-based broadcaster hasn't spoken on the Le Parisien report, it does have a history of exclusively showing gruesome video. It was the first to broadcast the footage of Muammar Qaddafi's death after the Libyan revolution last year, and it stood by video of a child killed in Syria while YouTube took down copies that had gone viral. In the case of Qaddafi, Al Jazeera spokesman Osama Saaed told Politico it was necessary to show the video to back up reports the network was receiving that Qaddafi had, indeed, been killed. "It’s clearly newsworthy, and we decided to air it. Everyone else seems to agree. Every major network has been using our footage," Saaed said. In the case of Syria, Al Jazeera routinely airs citizen video in order to tell the story of what's happening in a country where almost all foreign journalists have been barred.
But the Toulouse video is different. It comes not from a confusing war zone or a country torn apart by civil unrest. It simply documents one man's crimes. The network's reasoning for showing other disturbing video from elsewhere in the world does not translate to this case. And Al Jazeera has given no indication that it plans to air the footage.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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