On the decapitation of eyes and voice

A video released by ISIS shows the purportedly beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and threatens the life of another if President Barack Obama doesn’t end military operations in Iraq.

Decapitation (the original way of referring to beheading) comes from Latin, caput, capitis, meaning head.

The word decapitation can also refer, on occasion, to the removal of the head from a body that is already dead. This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, for cryonics or for other reasons (font: Wikipedia).

It has been used for centuries (actually, millennia) for capital punishment sometimes attributing it an honorable or less honorable mantle according to local culture and traditions.

Amongst many Cultures the human head was venerated above all else, since the head is the soul, centre of the emotions as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world.

I’m writing on the emotional wave of the images of the beheading of James Foley in Iraq. I’m shocked and touched in my most inner depths as a human being and as one who copes with Information.

A picture of James Foley, taken on November 5, 2012 in Aleppo.   AFP PHOTO/HO/NICOLE TUNG /AFP/Getty Images

A picture og James Foley, taken on November 5, 2012 in Aleppo. AFP PHOTO/HO/NICOLE TUNG /AFP/Getty Images

Severing the head deprives all other organs of the involuntary functions that are essential for the body to function.

Severing the head of a Journalist has a metaphorical meaning of depriving the voluntary functions that are essential to public opinion Worldwide to have a knowledge of what is going on around the World.

Terrorists did not “simply” beheaded him. They beheaded his eyes and his voice.

Journalists in conflict scenarios risk their lives on a daily basis. We remember them only when they are abducted and/or killed but we would not know what happens there if it wasn’t for there.

Citizen Journalism is not journalism with the capital J. Reading facts on Twitter as reported by local witness is not enough as it easily lends the side to propaganda (often involuntary).

We need Pros on the field who gather those “sparkle of information” and make it an ongoing fire. This is the role of modern day Journalism.

But this means danger, taking risks, following a passion for truth and perceiving it ‘till the extreme consequences. Now more than ever, since Journalists are perceived as targets more than ever, because they see, they hear, they report to us in real time.

Their eyes and their voices are weapons of mass storytelling.

Severing their head shuts their eyes and mouth for good and it attempts to do that to the entire Fourth Power.

But they make our democratic values of freedom of expression and information stronger than ever.

James Foley was a great and passionate Journalist. Our thoughts go to his family and friends and to those of the other journalist showed in the video and threatened to be soon beheaded. Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped at the Syria-Turkey border in 2013, a contributor to Time and Foreign Policy magazines, is one of about 20 journalists missing in Syria, many of them now held by ISIS.

But our thoughts, today, go also to all other Journalists on the field, whom we do not know or remember their names but without whom we won’t be what we are.

Because our values are also made and strengthened by being able to form a public opinion built on independent, neutral and correct Information.

Beheading a Journalist, decapitates his eyes and voice. But makes our eyes more open and our voice louder.

Antonio Amendola

twitter: @antonioamendola


Following the huge wave of solidarity, Daniel van Moll started an initiative to remember James Foley as the great person an journalist he was.

Many people around the World changed their profile/cover picture on social media to an image of them holding a ‘Remembering Jim’ sign  using the hashtag ‪#‎rememberingjim

It’s an easy way to pay a tribute to one of us and to keep his story going.

And the website www.rememberingjim.org is the place where Daniel and the other friends will be putting all these images online into a growing stream of pictures.

As a tribute and contribution of us at Shoot4Change, here are some of those images (we’ll try to update the gallery as often as possible)