The Washington Post, one of the most respected publications in the world, has been lacerated on Twitter over the headline it chose for an "Obituary" notice for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State commander, who killed himself on Saturday during a United States military operation in Syria. The obituary was carried on the publication's website.
Confirmation of the death of Baghdadi was delivered by US President Donald Trump at around 6.30 pm IST on Sunday night.
"Last night the United States brought the world's No. 1 terrorist leader to justice," Trump said in a televised announcement from the White House. "He was a sick and depraved man, and now he's gone."
While many have questioned the need for the Washington Post to have published an obituary for one of the world's most wanted terrorists, interestingly the headline for which the paper is being trolled - "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at the helm of Islamic State, dies at 48" - was changed from the original "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State "terrorist-in-chief", dies at 48".
They had it right the first time.— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) October 27, 2019
The Washington Post changed the headline on its Al-Baghdadi obituary from “Islamic State's terrorist-in-Chief” to “austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State.” pic.twitter.com/cs243EVz7W
The headline resulted in #WaPoDeathNotice and #WashingtonPost trending in several countries, with a deluge of tweets featuring similar "obits" couched in euphemism for well-known criminals - both real and fictional.
In India Sasmit Patra, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP offered the Post an alternate headline - "Most Wanted Terrorist Killed".
#WaPoDeathNotices Such preposterous headlines should not surprise India. Pakistani headlines eugolise dead terrorists as freedom fighters. Most hilarious is referencing it under Obituaries. Headline could simply have read - Most Wanted Terrorist Killed. pic.twitter.com/YZFXJL95Tv— Dr. Sasmit Patra (@sasmitpatra) October 28, 2019
Indian Twitter users provided their own unique spin on the #WaPoDeathNotice trend, with several references to legendary Bollywood villain Mogambo, who was played by the late Amrish Puri in the 1987 film "Mr India".
The Elon Musk of India, India's Missile Man, Mogambo, passes away aged 54. His life was dominated by his 2 passions: giving people unusual baths, and lighting firecrackers in unusual places.— Mahesh Shankar (@MaheshShankarS) October 28, 2019
Tragically killed by a vagrant who pushed the wrong button.#WaPoDeathNotices
Mogambo, an always happy ruler died at the age of 52 due to malfunctioning missiles design #WaPoDeathNotices— Ashfaq Khan (@AshfaqqKhann) October 28, 2019
Mogambo, ever smiling, always happy chemistry enthusiast and ballistics afficionado dies at 58. #WaPoDeathNotice— Hari Shenoy (@harishenoy) October 28, 2019
Famous, highly-prized, rebel, Gabbar Singh, passes away quietly in jail, mourned by his associates who ate his salt and bullets. He was known for his love of unusual dance forms, and for promoting a hands-free existence. #WaPoDeathNotices— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) October 28, 2019
Check out some of the other hilarous #WaPoDeathNotice and #WashingtonPost posts:
Osama bin Laden, father of 23, killed in home invasion #WaPoDeathNotices— Joe DeVito (@JoeDeVitoComedy) October 27, 2019
Tweets announcing the demise of Marvel Comics character Thanos were popular, with at least one other user drawing on the same meme.
Other tweets referenced Voldemort from the popular Harry Potter series of books and films, and John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated former American President Abraham Lincoln.
BREAKING: London authorities believe that the remains of "Jack the Ripper" have been discovered. This 19th century vigilante is best remembered for his relentless anti-corruption crusades and his masterful surgical skills. More details to follow. #WaPoDeathNoticespic.twitter.com/0dxlUL8Qmg— Queen Paola ???????? ???????? ???????? (@Paola_Dec1231) October 28, 2019
The Washington Post has since changed the headline of the obituary, which can be found here, to: "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48".
Kristine Coratti Kelly, Vice President (Communications) and General Manager of Washington Post Live, has since tweeted an apology regarding the "al-Baghdadi obituary".
Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.— Kristine Coratti Kelly (@kriscoratti) October 27, 2019
"Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly," she wrote.