I sat gobsmacked watching the news last weekend. There was carnage in Paris – dead bodies sprawled out on the floor, attacks in 6 locations, every news channel repeated that there were over 100 people dead. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. I watched a shaky video recording of a pregnant woman hanging from a window trying to escape and an astonished young man relaying how his phone had saved him from a bullet. He missed death by about an inch. Utter madness.
Although it wasn’t covered in the news a great deal, the day before there was also a suicide attack in Beirut. 43 people died and 239 were seriously wounded. Reports stated that a man called Adel Termos who was walking with his daughter tackled a second suicide bomber to the ground and prevented him from killing more. Sadly Termos died in that attack. He will be remembered by many as a hero.
On the same day as the Paris attacks, in Baghdad, there was a roadside bombing and an explosion at a funeral. Just like that…innocent people were massacred whilst simply going about their normal activities. My heart goes out to all of the people affected. There are no words to describe what they must be going through.
Several people who knew about the latter incidents also highlighted that there was a lack of coverage in the media about Beirut and Baghdad and several other atrocities taking place in the world. On Instagram, many people criticised Tiwa Savage (a Nigerian popstar) for posting a ‘pray for Paris’ picture and asked if she had also remembered to pray for Nigeria.
Whilst I agree that the Western media should provide a much wider coverage of all terrorist attacks, I had to roll my eyes at some of the comments. Many called Savage a hypocrite, yet they have no idea how much she prays for or what anguish she feels for her own country. Wherever one is in the world, should one not have a right to mourn or show compassion for whoever they want without being told that their empathy is misdirected? Are people who live in Europe not allowed to feel shock that terrorism, which always feels so far away, has now been brought to their doorstep?
What happened in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris and everywhere there are such vile attacks, is incredibly sad and entirely devastating. However, I also believe that rather than criticising people who choose to show compassion for a specific incident, we as global citizens should take much more interest in what is going on in the world.
The mainstream media will respond to the demands of their consumers. Indeed, there were some news outlets that covered the Beirut and Baghdad bombings, but many of us didn’t see it, ignored or scrolled past it – because we have the misplaced perception that war in Baghdad, Beirut etc. happen all the time and is not our concern. That thinking needs to change. The attack in Beirut, for example, was the worst experienced in Lebanon since 2013, when 2 mosques were bombed in the coastal town of Tripoli. Attacks like that are not everyday events in Lebanon.
I’m not going to lie, I was completely shocked at what happened in Paris and as I took the train to work this morning, I pondered on the idea that the busy train we were on could be a pawn in some geo-political strategy and suddenly blow up at any minute. I mused on the consequences of France’s defiant retaliation strategy. I felt sad about the state of our world. I reflected on the fact that the UK was so close to France and wondered if we would ever need to get used to the idea that our homes could become a frontline of warfare. Life is fragile and it is precious everywhere. I whispered a prayer under my breath for God’s protection because we never know what tomorrow may bring.