It’s been just over 24 hours and the world is still reeling from the shock of the horrific Paris attacks that took place in the French capital. It was the worst attack on French soil since World War 2 in 1945 and has left more than a 120 people dead.
Facebook has since launched its security check feature and hundreds are being ‘marked safe’ to the relief of family and friends around the world. People across the networking site have been changing their profile pictures to the blue, white and red filter showing their solidarity and support with the victims and the French. The collective murmur of “nous sommes français” echos throughout the statuses of countless social media users and news channels are providing 24-hour coverage.
While the support and outrage of hundreds of thousands is a sign that this attack has shaken the world to realise the threat of the Islamic State is real in the western world, does changing our profile picture to the French flag or posting pictures from your France vacations and the Eiffel tower really make a difference?
With Paris in mind, Lebanese users across Twitter and Facebook are wondering why their disaster didn’t receive the same treatment.
“No Facebook safety check or Obama address for #Beirut yesterday,” one user Tweeted. “Sad but true.”
Nor did the bombings in Lebanon draw mass tweets from World leaders and celebrities, no live media blogs or 24-media coverage from Western media.
Where were the Lebanese flag filters two days ago when suicide attacks killed 41? Or the Kenyan flag filters after the Al Qaeda attack at Garissa University in April that killed 150 in Kenya? Or when Boko Haram razed the town of Baja in Nigeria, killing more than 2,000 people. There was a collective silence from the west and the western media.
Throughout 2015, thousands of similar attacks have occurred in Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Yemen, Cameroon, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey… the list is endless. But it was only after the Paris attacks that President Obama in a statement said, “This is an attack not just on Paris…this is an attack on all of humanity.” Was the Garissa University attack not an attack on humanity? Is the Syrian conflict that is causing people to dislocate from their homes not an attack on humanity?
It leaves us with the lasting question– Did the reaction to the Paris attacks reach such a level of outrage because it happened in a European country? to European people?
After the Charlie Hebdo shooting more than 40 world leaders and what officials claims were between 1.2 and 1.6 million people took part in a unity march to honor the 17 victims, the same will probably be done for the Paris attacks.
At the heart of this debate lies the question: Is some life is more valuable than others, or by extension, European lives more valuable than those of the Syrians? the Lebanese? The 43 students that have been missing for over a year now in Mexico?
France has sadly experienced what the Syrians and Iraqis have been experiencing for the last two years with the rise of the Islamic State. Over the last year, more than 700,000 requests for asylum have been submitted to European countries by refugees fleeing horrific violence and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Is that not enough to be considered worthy of global outrage?
We can’t change our profile pictures to express solidarity with one section of people when we ignore another.
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