Saturday, March 26, 2011

POV: My Name Is Mohammed....I'm A Driver

Tyler Hicks In Libya Photo © John Moore/Getty Images-All Rights Reserved
All of us who are connected to the world of photojournalism and photography were greatly relieved that Stephen Farrell, Tyler Hicks, Lynsey Addario and Anthony Shadid. were freed a couple of days ago from their ghastly ordeal at the hands of the pro-Qaddafi military.

The New York Times featured a compelling narrative written by the four individuals, and which describes in gripping details what they went through; suffering beatings, indignities, insults and more. The most personal cry from the heart came in the following:
From the pickup, Lynsey saw a body outstretched next to our car, one arm outstretched. We still don’t know whether that was Mohammed. We fear it was, though his body has yet to be found.

If he died, we will have to bear the burden for the rest of our lives that an innocent man died because of us, because of wrong choices that we made, for an article that was never worth dying for.

No article is, but we were too blind to admit that.
Mohamed was the Libyan driver who had been driving the four when captured by the pro-Qaddafi military, and there's no news of his fate.

While the great majority of the comments made on the article were extremely supportive, a few were not. However, this is the hard core reality of conflict and war. A split second decision may mean life or death...a turn to the left instead to the right may lead one to death or imprisonment...and being at the wrong place at the wrong time means being maimed or worse. The ones at fault for whatever happened to Mohammed are not Tyler Hicks' nor his companions, but whoever killed or imprisoned him.

Having said that, I wish Mohammed had a last name. Perhaps the article hasn't made it public for fear of retribution on his family...that would be understandable. Otherwise, not to mention it is doing him or his memory a disservice. Mohammed has a surname, has a family name...Tyler Hicks and his companions should have known it.

Photojournalists would be unable to do their jobs if not for the vital support of local fixers, interpreters and drivers. And yet, little recognition if any is granted to them. Perhaps it's the nature of the local fixers to remain anonymous so that they get obtain further assignments.

I don't know for sure...but what I do know is that I felt really sorry for Mohammed to only be known as Mohammed...the driver. Perhaps The New York Times and their journalists will eventually be able to compensate him and his family.

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