Twenty-eight-year-old German Andreas Lubitz was the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, flying on March 24 from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to Dusseldorf Airport, when it crashed approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Nice in the French Alps.
A French prosecutor later said that information from the black box indicated that Lubitz locked out the other pilot, Patrick Sondenheimer, and then deliberately crashed the plane, killing all 144 passengers and 6 crew members on board.
Since then, the Western media has been trying to dig into Lubitz’ past and his beliefs in an attempt to find the motive for his actions, which come at an age when deliberately crashing a plane would usually be equated with a terrorist act by the international community, especially Europe and North America.
Here are some reasons why the media, especially in the West, is trying very hard not to label Lubitz a terrorist:
1. He is white and European. Not a brown-skinned Arab, Yemeni, Pakistani, Indonesian, Egyptian, Jordanian, or Syrian.
2. He is German; not a citizen of any Middle Eastern or Asian country dominated by those who profess the Islamic faith.
3. His first name is Andreas, not Omar, Osama or Ayman — and his last name is decidedly European-sounding. Even Obama would have a better chance of being branded a terrorist than someone whose last name is Lubitz.
PHOTO: HUFFINGTON POST
4. The German pilot is not a member of the Islamic State, or al Qaeda, or the Taliban or any other group commonly associated with terrorism.
PHOTO: BETA NEWS
5. He doesn’t have a beard. By all accounts, and from the pictures circulating on the Internet, Lubitz never had a beard. In fact, the picture of his most widely circulated on the Internet shows him standing in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, smiling away — hardly terrorist material, one would say.
6. Lubitz suffers from depression and in fact his doctor is said to have indicated that he was unfit to be a pilot, a fact, media reports say, he hid from his employer. Seemingly, suffering from depression disqualifies you from being labeled a terrorist, even if your actions kill the lives of 149 other innocent people. Lubitz is in good company — before him Norwegian Anders Breivik, despite killing 69 Norwegian children at a summer camp in 2011 was hardly labeled a “terrorist”.
PHOTO: HUFFINGTON POST
7. True to form, much of the Western media seems to have gone along with the line that if at all, his actions were solely his own and were not guided by any political agenda. This is usually referred to as the ‘lone wolf’ theory and suggests that the perpetrator of a major crime involving the killing of several people usually acts on his own.
The site of the Germanwings crash. PHOTO: QZ
This theory usually applies in the case of white males, and has been particularly successfully applied by the western media in cases of mass murder and killing in America. Take for instance the 1993 bombing in Okhlahoma, which leveled a US federal building, killing 168 people, and its perpetrators — Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols — were described by the media as lone wolves, despite the active presence of many rightwing/white supremacist militias in the US. The same kind of label was applied in other instances of mass murder in America carried out by white males, such as the Columbine school, Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook shootings.
Contrast this with the act of a lone gunman in Canada’s capital Ottawa on October 22, 2014, by a Muslim convert killing two people. The Canadian prime minister called the action by the perpetrator, a habitual offender and drug addict, an act of terrorism.