Hundreds of Jordanians took to the streets chanting slogans of solidarity with the Jordanian state, hours after an unverified ISIS video emerged on February 3 showing the horrific killing of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh.
This video uploaded by alghadnewspaper on YouTube shows people chanting “We will sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Jordan” and holding placards that say “Death to Daesh (The Arabic acronym for ISIS).”
Some protesters also called for the execution of Sajda Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber behind bars in Jordan. ISIS had demanded Rishawi's release as part of a prisoner exchange deal with Jordanian authorities for Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, who was captured by ISIS militants after his plane was shot down late December, 2014 in Syria.
Jordan's Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has called for a funeral prayer in absentia to be held in all of the kingdom's mosques on February 4, while Jordan's churches tolled their bells mourning their fallen hero.
In solidarity with the pilot, divided on revenge
Tweets linking to images from the purported execution video are geo-tagged to ISIS stronghold Ar-Raqqah city, in Syria’s war-torn Aleppo province. Jordan State TV reported that Al-Kaseasbeh was allegedly killed on January 3, but the nature of today's video was a shock to many, who refused to let ISIS propaganda cast a shadow on his memory.
An Amman-based Twitter user explains:
You've brought all Jordanians closer together than we've ever been. IS will now feel the wrath of 7million strong. RIP #كلنا_معاذ
— Sohaib Ismail (@sohaibism) February 3, 2015
Syrian Journalist and Analyst Hassan Hassan explains that while some Jordanians expect their government to avenge its pilot's death, such a response is perhaps not the most appropriate:
It's what some Jordanians expect. They expect hard hitting response. Incredible act of savagery that won't be avenged by mere executions.
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) February 3, 2015
Jordanian Blogger and Co-founder of 7iber, Naseem Tarawnah calls for a national conversation, fearing a dark road ahead of Jordan if concerns are not addressed appropriately:
Muath's murder needs to spark a national conversation in #jordan, or otherwise we're going to be heading a very dark road. #ripMuath
— Naseem Tarawnah (@tarawnah) February 3, 2015
Exiled activist Iyad El-Baghdadi says that in order for change to happen, the cycle needs to be broken from within:
We'll keep going from tyranny to terrorism to foreign intervention in a closed loop until we find our voice and break the cycle from within.
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) February 3, 2015
Don't share the video
The 22-minute execution video showing Al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death, while locked in a cage, is highly stylized and edited with graphics. The video features ISIS logos, cutaways to an interview with the pilot, news broadcasts on the pilot’s capture and images of war.
Randa Habib of AFP reported its impact on those closest to the pilot:
Devastated, some relatives fell on the floor after being informed of the execution of pilot Moaz Kasabeh. Women collapsed. Heartbreaking
— Randa HABIB (@RandaHabib) February 3, 2015
The grotesque video, in the form of screen-grabs, quickly spread in social media. Many discouraged others from spreading those scenes in an effort to respect the victim's family and honor his memory.
Jude Qattan, a Jordanian university student called for a blackout on the video:
Don't share the video, it's what they want us to do, to spread terror. don't do it. #كلنا_معاذ #ISISMediaBlackout
— Hey Jude (@Yashhmy) February 3, 2015
Journalist Andy Carvin also made a strong case against circulating the video:
Everyone has the right to bear witness. I’m a strong believer in it. But if someone wants to see a man burned alive, google it yourself.
— Andy Carvin (@acarvin) February 3, 2015
Washington DC-based Bridget Johnson asked that Al-Kaseasbeh be remembered as a proud Jordanian pilot:
Refuse to post any of the photos of #MuathalKaseasbeh from ISIS propaganda. Remember him as proud Jordanian pilot. pic.twitter.com/E6gOA1F2Xo
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) February 3, 2015
Sharing a photo of Al-Kaseasbeh while in Istanbul, BBC Journalist Faisal Irshaid said that “this is how we remember him” instead:
Don't share the #ISIS photos allegedly showing the burning of Moaz Kasasbeh. This is how we remember him. #كلنا_معاذ pic.twitter.com/ye18wmO8Zj
— Faisal Irshaid (@faisalirshaid) February 3, 2015
Those who watched the video, on the other hand, were taken aback by its content, dubbing the act of burning someone to death as barbarism. Tarawneh said that it was the worst 22 minutes of his life:
Just watched video. Worst 22min of my life. They beat him bad & made him play the role of victim in his own dramatic execution scene. (cont)
— Naseem Tarawnah (@tarawnah) February 3, 2015
Egyptian Blogger, tweeting under the title of The Big Pharaoh, equated ISIS with Nazis:
ISIS are the Nazis of the Middle East. Every region has or had its own psychopaths. I don't think anything worse than ISIS can appear.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) February 3, 2015
Muath, the Hero
Yet many, using the hashtag #IamMuath and #كلنا_معاذ in Arabic, expressed their solidarity with the victim's family and remembered him for serving his country as its pilot. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations Dina Kawar dubbed Al-Kaseasbeh as Jordan's brave hero, and a symbol of courage:
Our brave hero Muath will always be remembered as a symbol of courage. May God bless his soul and rest him in peace. #كلنا_معاذ #Jordan
— Dina Kawar (@AmbKawar) February 3, 2015
Buzzfeed's Sheera Frenkel also mentioned the victim's family and their tireless efforts of campaigned for his release:
Thoughts are with the family of Moath Kassabah, who campaigned so hard for his release. #كلنا_معاذ pic.twitter.com/wByKfhC6jc
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) February 3, 2015
The group's latest act prompted a discussion on the depletion of humanity. Jordanian Photographer Amer Sweidan summed the views of many in his tweet:
We have reached the bottom of human depravity. RIP, Muath. #MuathalKaseasbeh #JO #كلنا_معاذ
— Amer Sweidan (@AmerSweidan) February 3, 2015
Egypt-based Journalist Mohamed Abdelfattah was rendered wordless over the news:
No words suffice for the agony felt by the death of Moath. My deep condolences to my Jordanian friends. #كلنا_معاذ
— Mohamed Abdelfattah (@mfatta7) February 3, 2015
A day before, Jordanians stood in solidarity with Japan after ISIS purportedly released a video beheading journalist Kenji Goto. Muath Al-Kaseabeh, was believed to be in captivity along with Goto.
Kharabeesh, a news site based in Jordan, released an animated video tribute to the fallen pilot on Facebook. Within 3 hours the video had been viewed 130,000 times.
Deena Abu Mariam tweeted banners raised in Jordan that stood against terrorism, and in solidarity with Japan:
Jordanians standing with #Japan in their loss. #Jordan #IamMuath #KenjiGoto pic.twitter.com/bUdpmnNow1
— دينا أبو مريم (@deenaabumariam) February 2, 2015
Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah saluted Al-Kaseasbeh for serving his country with honor:
#أقسمت_وأوفيت يا شهيد الوطن الغالي. رحمك الله واسكنك فسيح جناته #معاذ_الكساسبة #الأردن
— Rania Al Abdullah (@QueenRania) February 3, 2015
You swore the oath and fulfilled your promise. You are the homeland's martyr. May God rest your soul.
I feel such sorrow for th Jordanian people