Arabeyes: Thoughts on the Virginia Tech Massacre

For Algerian student Nouri, who studies in the US, the shooting at Virginia Tech is too close to home for comfort. He links to the above photograph, from the Washington Post, which features one of his acquaintances, who goes to school there.

“The brown fellow to the right, just above and between the two girls in headscarves is a fellow named Khaled, who is also an Algerian. While 30 people were killed (including two Arab-Americans), it is good to know he is not hurt, and that the ordeal's bloodshed is done with,” he writes.

bloggers are also giving the incident blanket coverage, especially that three of the victims are Arabs – two of Lebanese origin and an Egyptian Phd student.

Blogger Rima Abdelkader updates us on victim Reema Samaha‘s last dance here:

“Virginia Tech student, Reema Samaha, was murdered on Monday, April 16th along with a total of 32 other Virginia Tech students and faculty. Her family last visited her the weekend before this tragic shooting to watch her perform in a festival at Virginia Tech. A passionate dancer, Reema performed in a debka performance, a traditional Arab folk dance, with her classmates. Here are three clips with her and her classmates in show from YouTube.

Two Virginia Tech student groups, Palestinian Awareness at Virginia Tech and the Cedars of Lebanon, sponsored this fair, called the International Street Fair 2007,” she explains.

The other victim of Lebanese origin is Ross Abdullah Alameddine, 20. Lebanese blogger Jounoune updates us about how the two Lebanese families are dealing with the shock in this link to a newspaper report.

Nadia Gergis , who also writes for Arabisto, links to an interview with Reema's father.

“A sad interview with Joe Samaha, the father of Reema Samaha, has been posted on MSNBC by reporter Stone Phillips. Seems like the school didn't inform the Samaha family of the shooting. We've also learned that her parents Joe and Mona Samaha, are graduates of the American University in Beirut.

“We've are also learning from the New York Times of another victim of the shooting, who seems to be from Egypt. His name is Waleed Shaalan,” she writes.

And while the shooter was not an Arab, Gergis reports that a Palestinian student at the university took footage of the massacre using his cell phone camera.

“I am sure I am not alone in my thoughts today.

When I heard about the shootings at Virginia Tech, I said to myself at work today, “please, please, please don’t let the shooter be Arab.” I kept walking by the news praying that the anchors on CNN would not say, “could this be the act of a terrorist.”

While the killer’s name hasn’t been released, CNN reports that he might be Asian. I am relieved. Isn’t that horrible, I am relieved that he is Asian and not Arab,” she admits.

But there was an Arab all over CNN today. His name is Jamal Albarghouti, who recorded shots being fired on the Virginia Tech campus through his cell phone for CNN’s iReports.

All we know about Albarghouti is he is a grad student at the school. Today, he shows us the future of citizen journalism. His footage was broadcast by several major television networks and he was even a guest on Larry King Live on Monday night.

Despite all this, Gergis says there were some attempts to link the massacre to Islam.

And I quote from Fox: “He apparently had scrawled the words “ISMAIL AX” on the inside of one arm, which may be a reference to the Islamic account of the Biblical sacrifice of Abraham.”

The haters have already started blogging on this. I knew it would only be a matter of time.

In Egypt, blogger Zeinobia mourns an Egyptian victim in the massacre – Walid Mohammed Shabaan.

She admits that the shooting didn't raise her curiosity, until she realised there was an Egyptian among those killed.

“To tell you the truth I didn't pay much attention to the massacre that happened in the Virginia Tech ,yes it is horrible and I felt so sad to the families of the victims and angry that they lost their beloved ones because some crazy manic But I felt even more sadder and angrier when I knew that there was an Egyptian among the victims who were killed by crazy Cho.

“It turned out among the victims according to Virginia Tech. institute the Egyptian researcher Walid Mohamed Shabaan from Zagagzig in Delta , a doctoral student in civil engineering , he was working in the national center for Water researches and had a personal scholarship for PHD there since August 2006,” she notes.

However, Zeinobia is quick to criticise Western media for not shedding enough light on the Arab victim.

“There is no(t) much about him in the American media ,I don't know why they neglected him, I check the New York Times and I found nothing, in the American TV the same thing.

“Already I think his story is tragic even more tragic than many of the victims because this young man finished his study ,took his degree and was supposed to leave and return back home to Egypt on that day of the massacre, he should have returned home by today.

“Instead he will return home dead,” she says.

Meanwhile Iraqi blogger Iraqi Konfused Kid, who is a university student in Jordan, provides links for the killer's two plays.

One of his readers notes:

christine said…

Hey, I've been reading your blog for a while. Thanks for creating it.

With this post you created about the Virginia Gunman, I thought how it's interesting that you keep up with the events in America when many people here are relatively ignorant of the events in your country and elswhere in the world. It just struck me as wrong somehow. America has to become more connected with the world. It's our only chance.

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti-born blogger Fonzy doesn't hide his disgust with the murderer Cho Seung-Hui.

“I’m sure everyone heard of the massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech by one of the resident students, some guy called Cho Seung-Hui. Apparently, the guy did what he did cos he had no life!!! And he videotaped a suicide message which was aired on NBC news. One of the quotes he said was:

“Your Mercedes wasn’t enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren’t enough you snobs. Your trust funds wasn’t enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn’t enough. All your debaucheries weren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.”

SO WHAT?!?! He was poor so that makes it ok to kill 32 people??!! And he wanted to show the world how disturbed he was?” he writes.


  • Alec

    Loneliness proves to be a deadly feeling…

  • Nickie Woodard

    Well… hopefully I have found on outlet for my thoughts. The news stations truly are trouble makers. They keep saying what more could have Virginia Tech done, the truth is nothing… just because there is a murder in New York City we do not shut the whole city down. I am a college student in the next state over and I find it ridiculous to place blame on any one exept the person who took the lives of innocent individuals. I also have noticed that the news has got thier cameras aimed at every Asian on the campus. Asian has nothing to do with it. There are good and bad white people, black people, asian people, middle estern people, and many more than I can list… race does say whether we are good human beings or not… Our actions do that. My thoughts and prayers and deepest symphathy go out to the victims at Virginia Tech thier families and friends. I would also like to say that the community spirit that the college and its students have showed is amazing–I admire everyone of you for your courage and bravery. God Bless. And please remember god made all of us no matter where your from , what you do, or what reliogion you practice… we may call hime different names but he is still the one and the only God.

  • bklipa

    For all of those who don’t live here in the USA; the VTech shootings were never viewed as ethnically or racially motivated. FOX news didn’t ever focus on the nationality of the shooter except as a factual item…I know because FOX is the main station I watch for news. The main focus was how the mental health of the shooter was confidential, therefore the gun dealer who sold him the weapons had no idea how dangerous he was.

    I know that the easy answer is to blame the “gun culture” of the US, or blame the degree of privacy we enjoy in the US, but the easy answers aren’t a legitimate way to examine the tragedy. No one on any of the news outlets I saw ever suggested Islam or Arabs were behind this tragedy! Maybe the loonies on the blogs did, but I always consider the source before I take what they say seriously. People on the blogs need to realize that most of the population of the USA don’t spend their time on the computer…we’re too busy working and tending to everyday life! By the way, none of the victims have been discussed in any detail, but I’m sure all of them will be mentioned equally…yes, even the ones the world thinks won’t be!! Everyone take a deep brearh and say a prayer for all of the people who died violently all over the world for no reason other than the madness of human rage.

  • Aliana


    As i listened to the tape that Cho sent to the news
    ( which by the way should never have aired especially so soon) I was troubled and very furious. I am a college student as well and i am the definition of poor.

    I have no home and eat when i am able, thankfully i have clothes on my back.I do not have harsh feelings toward other students who have cars and fancy belongings or those who spend thier money on foolish things.Instead i work hard in school knowing that my situation is only temporary and in the near future i will too have the “finer” things in life.

    Cho was disturbed…no doubt. And the child needed to seek help under a court order. But due to our ‘rights’ and laws which have soo many loop-holes i get dizzy, he was sent to see a professional but was released. My heart is very heavy with this mayhem. Our homes are not safe,our places of worship are not safe and our schools are no-longer a safe haven for recieving our higher education.

    They are stressing the issue that the school had no form of secutrity and that the right warnings were not sent to the students.I believe this, but I must argue (from 1st hand expeirence) that even when officials go through the proper procedures of safety we the people do not take the exercises seriously(until tragedy occurs). I think as Americians we are so used to getting our way and having that ‘superman’ complex that we feel that nothing can happen to us. Television has also desensitized us but i wont speak on that. Only when a tragedy of outstanding porportion takes place do we realize that life is real, things happen and no one is ommitted, excused or given a free card period. This however only lasts for a short time and then we go back to living our care free lives untill the next event wakes us up again.

  • Could the massacre that took place at Virgina Tech Monday morning be the result of a life-long speech impediment — and the ridicule of classmates?

    Read the linked blog for evidence and my hypothesis! BTW, I would post it here, but the info is too long for a comment.

  • This whole issue raises so many questions. I’m very outraged about the response, and the way the whole thing was handled. But I’m not here to rant about that. While there is no evidence to indicate this crime was racially motivated (and I don’t believe it was) I have to wonder, did the shooter randomly shoot the victims, or was did he know who he wanted to kill?

    I’m also convinced that this is incident was premeditated.

  • Hey Zeinobia- I checked Al Jezeera’s news about the Virginia killings and found no mention of Arabs killed. Seems the Arab press is as slow in talking about the victims as the Western press. Is this a conspiracy?

  • Christen Bushie

    Many are saying that ridicule brought Cho to do what he did, but the fact is that Cho did this because he was sick. I mean literally sick. He had been diagnosed with a mental illness several years before this happened. Even if he wasn’t diagnosed, you could still plainly see that he was disturbed. And, a speech impediment, while maybe inflicting ridicule, would not push a sane person to do this a mere two weeks before graduation. And, the supposed girlfriend did not even know him. She spoke to him on the internet once. ONCE!! The whole affair was a pigment of his imagination. There is no rationalization here. Cho killed these people out of his own free will. No one forced him to do it, he wasn’t being a martyr, all he did was hurt himself and the people around him just as those boys at Columbine did in 1999. Not only is there no rationalization that makes sense, but it would be wrong to say so. That is fact, pure and simple.

  • Khaled

    Hey! thats me! I’m the “brown fellow” in the back! I remember those days, we were like zombies, living a lucid and fuzzy existence for a few weeks. The feelings that were felt during those days were the most intense sadness I’ve ever felt. But we got through it Alhamdullah and we keep the fallen in our dua’s and prayers. Nouri, keep in contact, I’d like to see you again!

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.