Share this post
After the terrorist attacks on Paris last week, there was widespread coverage of the attack in all the news media of the world. Facebook even offered an option to change one’s profile picture to the colours of the French Flag to show solidarity with the victims of the attack and with France in general. Opinion pages were filled with moving prose regarding the indomitable spirit of Paris and how this vile and cowardly attack shall be overcome by the brave French. This show of transnational support from rest of the world is indeed required in these troubled times and one couldn’t help feeling assured that humanity will always prevail.
However, as one analyses the ISIS’ activities in the past year it is evident that the majority of the death and destruction meted out by them has been aimed at the ravaged populace of Iraq and Syria. Their reign of terror has resulted in a large-scale loss of lives. The Syrian refugee crisis, which started with the Syrian Civil war, has aggravated further with the emergence of ISIS. Yet, popular news media has not covered the butchery committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the way it covers attacks on the western world. Even the coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis has focussed more on its impact on Europe and North America than the conditions which have caused such a crisis in the first place.
Popular News media gives these incidents relatively brief space on their various platforms. Social media is rife with support for Paris but similar attacks on poorer parts of the world such as Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Turkey, receive scant, if any, calls for support. There is no denying that these attacks are summarily dismissed by the consumers of the news with a slight shrug signifying the banality of these attacks in these regions.
This begs the question as to what disturbed us most about the Paris attacks, the loss of life of the place of the loss of life. It is of course natural that the western news media would be more concerned with loss of life in areas that directly affect its readership. But, considering that popular news media has a tremendous say in what moves the collective conscience of our society there is an inescapable responsibility on popular news media to highlight any loss of life on such a scale especially when the cause is a single source (Religious extremists).
This cherry picking of events affecting only a certain part of the world although identical events happen in other parts is also directly against the notion of trans-national solidarity that social media wants to express.
Terrorist attacks by religious outfits in particular have a damaging outcome of alienating practitioners of that religion in the country that was attacked. It cannot be denied that such attacks are used by many parties and individuals with vested interests to paint all Muslims in a negative light. Adequate coverage of these attacks happening throughout the world (as opposed to only those happening in the West) will also prove that majority of victims of such attacks are the common populace of these places, who are usually Muslims and that the Muslim community as a whole is a victim due to the actions of a few. This will also help curb racist attacks on Muslims and other people of this region by misinformed individuals reacting to what is seen on popular news media.
After all, Human life is not real estate. Its value should not fluctuate with geography.