March 18, 2016 by Cláudia
We can hardly say terrorism has been going unnoticed by the media lately, but it seems like some attacks may be of bigger importance than others. While some get international coverage and extravagant manifestations of solidarity, others (the majority) are almost completely forgotten or unknown by most people, getting brief and passing attention from the general population.
Fact is, mere 24 hours before the attacks in Paris, there was a suicide bombing attack in Beirut that caused at least 43 deaths and more than 200 wounded. There was no international reaction about it, whereas a day later emblematic buildings were lit up with the French flag, schools closed for a mourning day, people lit candles all over the world and Facebook created an app specifically to convert profile pictures to have the French flag’s colours. For days, whether you turned on the TV or the computer, blue, white and red were everywhere.
But this goes beyond a simple neglect of the Lebanon attack. In reality, since the Paris offensive, there have been more than a thousand deaths, 52 terrorist attacks in countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Egypt, Libya or Tunisia. It seems like there is a line between the East and the West and that our concern is only directed to “our” side of the world and what is happening somewhere far away is unrelated to what has happened in Paris.
Knowing how many casualties have been really happening underneath the media coverage and considering most people would abstractly consider that every life is precious and every murder is a tragedy, it makes me wonder why some tragedies do have more protagonism than others. Why did we feel more moved by the death of French people than we do by Lebanese, Iraqi or Turquish people? What was meant as an act of solidarity actually came off as being a nationalist manifestation of the Western supremacy over the East. It is a perpetuation of the archaic opposition between civilized and uncivilized that makes us feel that attacks in Europe are a tragedy but attacks in Muslim countries are somewhat more expectable. The recent terrorism hysteria, while before was just a vague concern, shows that we act like terrorism is only a relevant problem when it affects Westerners.
Obama stated that what happened in Paris “was an attack not just on Paris, not just on the people of France, but on all Humanity and the universal values that we share.” and he’s right. A massacre is a tragedy to all Humanity and all the other innocent people that are dying nearly everyday in similar situations are attacks to all of us as well. An attack on Humanity includes all human beings.