27 March 2016 – A bomb blast Sunday in a park in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed at least 71, injuring more than 340, mostly women and children. While it is said that the attack targeted Christians, the victims were overwhelmingly Muslims.
22 March 2016 – Bombs packed with nails terrorized Brussels on Tuesday in the deadliest assault on the European heartland since the Daesh attacks on Paris four months prior, hitting the airport and subway system in coordinated strikes, killing 35 and injuring over 300.
Two horrific terrorist attacks killing and injuring far too many, mostly civilians. Both were perpetrated by terrorist organizations, one by Daesh and one by a Taliban offshoot called Jamaat-e-Ahrar. Similar terrorist attacks, yet with some major differences:
- The Brussels attack was major news on every network within minutes; the Pakistan attack was not reported in the U.S. until several hours had passed
- Monuments across the west lit up with the colours of the Belgian flag, but not a single western capital lit up with the colours of Pakistan.
- Immediately following the Brussels attacks, there was an outpouring of sympathy from the western world. Following the Pakistan attack, only Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, French President Francois Hollande and the Russian Foreign Ministry passed on sympathies along with US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, but most world leaders said little.
- The main difference, I suspect, is that Brussels is in Europe, a part of the western world, whereas Pakistan is in the Middle East.
April 2015 – Kenya was rocked with a terror attack at Garissa University that left 148 people dead. Of those, 142 were students. Where was the outrage? Where was the outpouring of grief and commiseration? I am ashamed to say that I do not even remember hearing about this attack until I read it on the 1st anniversary of the attack (read memory of fellow blogger StuckInPerpetualSoliloquy here. )
November 2015 – The day before the terrorist attacks in Paris, a pair of suicide bombers struck southern Beirut on Thursday, killing 43 people and leaving shattered glass and blood on the streets. At least 239 others were wounded. We all remember Paris, but does anybody remember Lebanon?
I could cite numerous other examples, as terrorist attacks are nothing new in the non-western world. Relatively, terrorism is a rarity in the western world – Europe and the Americas. However, listening to the western media, one would think that Daesh is the only terrorist organization and that the west is the only target. Quite simply, the reverse is true. Boko Haram is actually responsible for a larger number of deaths than Daesh, but since they are based in West Africa and operate primarily on the African continent, we never hear about them. The Taliban, Hezbollah, Al-Shaabab … all rank in the top 10 most lethal terrorist organizations. But we in the west are not told that. We are told only that we must fear Daesh (“ISIS” or “ISIL”). Terrorist attacks like the ones in Kenya, Pakistan, and Lebanon are far more frequent occurrences than those in Europe or the U.S., but we are not told that. WHY????
Remember the attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015? 11 people were killed and another 11 injured. Mainstream media brought us up-to-minute coverage for days. Social media was jammed with outpourings of support and sympathy. Yet, the number of victims was considerably smaller than, say, the attacks in Kenya, that we barely heard a peep about. Ah, but France is in Europe, part of the western world …
We in the western world are arrogant. Perhaps it is the fault of the media that we have come to believe we are all important and that nations in the Middle East or the African continent simply do not matter. Perhaps we would care if we were told, if the western media thought it was important enough to bring to our attention. Or perhaps not. There was a time I would have said that my fellow countrymen would be as distraught, as sad, as horrified over an attack in Kenya, Pakistan or Afghanistan as one in New York or Chicago. I am not so sure now. In the past decade, we seem to have been robbed of our humanity, of our compassion for others. Compassion is being replaced by bigotry, humanity by greed. Or apathy. Perhaps we have heard of so many attacks in the Middle East that we have become inured to them, we simply shrug our shoulders and think that “it took place over there, and those things happen over there.” Is the value of a human life any less because it is a Pakistani life or a Kenyan life or a Syrian life? Is the value of a Muslim life any less than a Christian life? I think not.
In my research for this article, I came across a comment on one of the news stories about the Pakistan attacks: “if world has to get some piece some countries has to be wiped out from world map. Pak, Afkhan, Turkey, Iraque, Albania, Bosnia, Saudi, and some Russian territories where Muslims are majority like Chech, Dage, Circassia, Bashkr,azarbaijn, Tartaristn .” Sickening, disgusting, and utterly inhumane. Is this the result of the hate speeches we hear almost daily by the bigots in our midst?
Even today, as I stroll through my Facebook timeline, kicking the garbage out of my way as I go, I see references to both the Paris and Belgium attacks, but nothing about Pakistan. Human nature is such that we will likely always be more attuned to what happens in our own backyard than halfway around the globe. Nevertheless, we should not simply shrug our shoulders and say “well, those things happen over there”, or “thank God it wasn’t here”. Other nations sometimes view the U.S. as arrogant, and they are not wrong. But I wonder if we are arrogant because we have been spoiled by living in a nation that has been exposed to so little adversity, or if we are arrogant because we are sheltered by our own media, fed by the politicians only what they want us to know, allowed to believe that only we matter? Think about it.