Dear Journo

Be your own man. Put your loyalties to family and friends to one side. You know right from wrong.

You’re not required to participate in the rehabilitation of the old friend whose table you shared at dinner parties, who shared your sofa for polite conversation and companionship. Friendship runs deep, but sometimes you have to answer a higher call.

Whatever your companions tell you, remember:

“O you who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. So follow not personal inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort your testimony or refuse to give it, then indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” — Qur’an 4:135

Remember too words attributed to your Prophet, that the people before us were destroyed because they used to inflict legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich.

You had an opportunity to probe as journalists do. You had the opportunity to defend your profession. You had an opportunity to ask the questions that needed to be asked, that demand answers. You had an opportunity to push back fairly, to be fair, impartial, balanced. But this was no Hard Talk, just a meeting of old friends, a child subservient to Uncle, participating in his unchallenged rehabilitation.

To be fair, you looked uncomfortable throughout — I hope that was your conscience and not merely the apparition of objectivity. Once or twice you responded with alternative explanations, as if at last you had allowed yourself to interrogate official narratives, but you were too meek to question him seriously. Too half-hearted in your approach, pretending not to know all of the details, which already you had published in the friendly press long ago and circulated everywhere.

No, you know right from wrong. And you know what your conscience tells you.

Be your own man. Let the other man carry his own burdens before his Lord.

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