Apparently there’s a video doing the rounds on social media showing the beheading of one of the Scandinavian girls who were murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains a few days ago. Yesterday I read the tweets of people who for some unknown reason had tracked it down and watched it; all severely regretted it, with some sounding as though they’re never going to be able to get the images and screams out of their heads.
I have no idea why people would watch a video like that: if you’re an ordinary person who’s never been exposed to extreme trauma, it’s going to damage you in some way (if not, you’re probably a psychopath). I skimmed a written description of what happens in the video and that was more than enough for me: it’s horrific. It’s a rather odd world we live in where people are kicked off social media for expressing unapproved opinions, but jihadist beheading videos circulate freely.
When I was in Nigeria a video did the rounds on Facebook of two Nigerian men who’d been caught by a mob in Port Hartcourt accused of stealing laptops. They were stripped naked, beaten unconscious, and set on fire. I watched it unawares, as did a few of my colleagues. Later we discussed it, and all of us lost sleep over it. It’s why I avoided watching the video of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot to death, I knew it would damage me psychologically.
Bizarrely, reading Twitter yesterday reminded me of the YouTube phenomenon from some years back called “2 Girls 1 Cup Reactions”. 2 Girls 1 Cup was a horrific video in which two Brazilian girls did some seriously disgusting things with one another; the “reactions” videos filmed people watching it while not showing the actual video (they’re easy to find on YouTube still; the video itself is described here on Wikipedia). People literally threw up on camera while watching it, and I thought any video which makes people do that is one I want to avoid. Similarly, if people are on Twitter saying they’re still shaking hours after watching a real-life snuff film in which a young woman screams for her mother while being beheaded, it’s one I hope I die without seeing.
Finally, whereas the two women were probably a bit naive to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains alone, and their Scandinavian background probably didn’t prepare them well for the dangers in the wider world, I think it’s a bit unfair to criticise them for not expecting to encounter jihadis. Morocco is a pretty safe place, and although tourists are warned parts of the Atlas Mountains are a bit sketchy in terms of being robbed, they are nonetheless a popular destination for thousands of hikers who return unharmed. I guess the girls were more unlucky than naive, although naivety certainly played a part. I said much the same when those cyclists were murdered in Tajikistan earlier this year.