These acts of terror are just so unacceptable it is beyond words to explain. So here come the difficult questions…
Why is it that the coverage of the Paris attack is so tremendously more than the media reporting of other terrorist attacks in the world? Is it that France is a modern, Western country, just like Britain, and it all feels a little too close to home? Well, most likely that has a lot to do with it. Here is a list of a mere handful of the most recent terrorist attacks that have taken place in the last month or so, honestly, how many of them can you say you’ve seen extensive coverage of or even heard about?
- 13th November Paris, France – 128 dead (352 injured)
- 13th November, Baghdad, Iraq – 19 dead (33 injured)
- 12th November, Beirut, Lebanon – 43 dead (240 injured)
- 23rd October, Jacobabad, Pakistan – 22 dead (+40 injured)
- 10th October, Ankara, Turkey – 102 dead (508 injured)
While I’m sure governments and organisations will often value each terrorist attack as equally important in the fight against global terror (n.b. that doesn’t just mean Islamic terrorism), the public perception of these attacks is hugely varied.
It sometimes feels as though we have reached a stage that, for a disturbing proportion of society, terrorist attacks in the Middle East are almost expected, and most worryingly, even accepted as a norm. It is only when it gets a little too close to our front door that people start to really take a stance. A morbid evolution of NIMBYism. Are we saying that only Europe/the West matters? That only Western lives matter? Surely we cannot live in a world were there is a hierarchy of value on the worthiness of life. That an innocent Lebanese life deserves less coverage and scrutiny than an innocent French life? I will remain optimistic that we have not reached this heartless stage. Yet.
But, if we are to truly address the causes of terrorism, the fundamental ideologies and motivations of these intolerable organisations, every single terrorist attack must be treated equally. Of course, that won’t mean that Facebook will offer the option to covert your profile picture into a Iraqi, Syrian or Saudi flag anytime soon, you’d probably never have your normal profile picture if they did, but in order to stand with Paris, we cannot forget to also stand with the whole of the Middle East, North Africa, West and East Africa (the list goes on…). We cannot afford to decline into a situation where certain humans matter and others, “well, you know, it’s the Middle East, what do you expect?” [Genuinely said to me once.]
There needs to be an international response to terrorism, not from the West or the East, the North or the South, but from everyone.
The Paris attacks were horrific, disturbing and unequivocally inexcusable. This is not the time to take cheap shots at the Western media for their slightly narrow approach to the news. I can’t see the Murdoch Empire taking a moral stance any time soon; their job is to sell newspapers. Nor can I see Donald Trump’s wall-building prowess coming much in handy for any of this.
So let’s just leave them to it, they aren’t going to change, we’d be fighting a losing battle. Instead, right now, you are reading this on the Internet, the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. In an instant you could be in touch with someone sat in Amman, or Riyadh, Dubai or even Damascus. A lot of these countries’ population feel abandoned by the West, in fact, a lot of the countries in the Middle East feel the root causes of terror lie in the historical Western intervention in the region. The more we push them away and isolate them, the harder it will be get them on our side. I am not talking about governments either, but rather people, normal, innocent people with lives consistently under threat from terror.
Can social media save the world? Well, no, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a few tweets to overcome this epidemic. But just next time you’re going to tweet out a picture of the Eiffel Tower rightly showing that you’re standing with Paris, just remember, we need to stand with the world too.
Image Source: Durham Cathedral during the Lumiere Light Festival - The Tab Durham