Selective Solidarity

Over the course of the last year, we have witnessed the latest attacks in a seemingly endless story of human tragedy. Thousands of lives have been lost and millions more have been twisted beyond recognition. They weren’t the first, and they won’t be the last, but you could be forgiven for thinking that some of them were more important.

Following the attacks in Paris on both the 7th of January and the 13th of November, the world responded with declarations of support and solidarity. We stood by France in its fear, its grief, and its anger. As the reports kept coming in and the numbers kept climbing, our hearts broke. As we saw pictures, watched videos and read the accounts of those unlucky enough to be there but lucky enough to survive, we wept. The world can be a really fucked up place sometimes but in that moment we made it slightly better just by caring. If only the same could be said about our response to every attack.

On the same day as the Charlie Hebdo shooting at least 37 people were killed and 66 injured by a bomb in Yemen’s Capital, Sanaa. Between the 3rd and the 7th of January, Boko Haram militants opened fire on Nigerian villages, killing at least 2,000 people and displacing 35,000 more. Later that month, on the 30th of January, a bombing at a mosque in Pakistan killed 60 people.

Over the course of two days, the 4th and 5th of February, Boko Haram militants in Cameroon killed 91 people and injured at least 500 more in a mass shooting and burning. The 13th of February saw 22 people killed and 60 injured as a result of a shooting and bombing at a mosque in Pakistan.

On the 7th of March suicide bombings at local markets and a car park in Nigeria killed 58 and injured 139. Thirteen days later a series of five suicide bombings were carried out at Mosques in Yemen. 137 were killed, 345 injured.

A shooting on the first day of April saw 147 dead and 79 injured at Garissa University in Kenya. On the 18th, a suicide bombing outside a bank in Afghanistan killed 33 and injured 115.

On the 13th of May a bus carrying Shia muslims was attacked in Pakistan, leaving 45 dead and 13 injured. The bus driver drove straight to the nearest hospital but it was too late for most people. Nine days after this, a suicide bomber attacked a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia. 21 were killed and over 90 were injured.

Three car bombs were detonated close to the Turkish border crossing in Syria on the 25th of June, resulting in 146 fatalities. The following day, 70 African Union Soldiers were  killed and 27 were injured when  Al Shabaab militants seized control of a military base in Somalia.

A series of shootings at mosques in Nigeria saw 145 killed and 17 injured between the 1st and 2nd of July. In Iraq 100 people lost their lives and 170 more were injured following a suicide car bombing on the 17th.

On the 7th of August a suicide bomber in a truck packed with explosives targeted recruits outside a police academy in Afghanistan. 50 were killed, 500 were injured. Another truck bombing on the 13th, this time in Iraq, killed 76 and injured 212.

Suicide bombings in Yemen killed 32 and injured 92 on the 3rd of September. Seventeen days after this, a series of suicide bombings in Nigeria left 145 dead and 97 wounded.

On the 10th of October, suicide bombers in Turkey killed 102 and injured 508 when they detonated themselves near the site of a peace rally. On the last day of the month, 224 people were killed when ISIS affiliated militants bombed a plane. No one survived.

That brings us to this last month. On the 12th, two IS suicide bombers attacked Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The first detonated a bike loaded with explosives, and once people had gathered around the scene, the second attacked. There were 43 dead and 240 wounded. The next morning, an IS suicide bomber targeted the funeral of a pro-government Shi’a fighter in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and wounding 41. Later that day, IS attacked Paris, leaving 129 dead and 430 wounded. On the 17th, a bombing took place at a farmers market in Nigeria killing 34 and injuring 80. The next day, two girls aged 11 and 18, detonated themselves in a mobile phone market in Kano, Nigeria. 15 people were killed, and at least 123 were injured.

This list, whilst exhausting in several respects, is by no means exhaustive. Almost 300 acts of terror have been committed in 2015, and each of them is a tragedy deserving of individual consideration. However, to do so here would be impractical and likely deal a great disservice to all of the victims – which has already been achieved by reducing the aforementioned tragedies to nothing more than dates, locations and numbers.

Unfortunately, doing so was necessary, if only to illustrate one very important point. All of the attacks described above were more deadly than the Charlie Hebdo Shooting, many of them were comparable to the attacks in Paris on the 13th of November, yet none of them received the same level of attention.

Statistically, the recent tragedies in Paris were not unprecedented. It is lamentably common for an act of terrorism to claim so many lives. As far as the perpetrators were concerned, there was nothing unusual about the attacks as both were committed by members of militant extremist groups which are known for using such tactics. Arguably, the most distinctive feature of these attacks is that they were targeting a populace consisting primarily of white Europeans, in a country that is geographically, economically, and culturally, similar to our own. Given these similarities, it is perhaps unsurprising that both the media and the general public have focused on the events in Paris so extensively.

This, however, does not condone our apparent disregard of the tragedies that have been imposed on so many other countries throughout the world. The implication of which is that we, as a nation, either care less when people of other races and cultures are killed, or consider terrorism to be more acceptable in countries where it is already common. Regardless, it is a failure that we need to acknowledge and address as we determine the most appropriate response to the threat of terrorism.

Will Sharman

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One thought on “Selective Solidarity

  1. The reason the media reports the Paris killings more is because it is more relevant to us culturally and geographically than if it occurs in Beirut for an example – if your neighbour’s house burns down you would generally be more attached than if it was a house ten miles from your own
    It’s wrong to use this as an opportunity to incite guilt in us readers
    and really, do you expect the news to cover EVERY terrorist attack? You said yourself there have been almost 300 terror attacks in 2015 so far so should the media cover all of these and start fear-mongering? A story every day about a new slaughter? Or should the government completely cease all reports on the matter?
    As you might have realised by now, it is inevitable that we will focus on incidents which occur in neighbouring and similar countries to our own, and if you haven’t realised that yet you are blinded by your own unwavering obsession with being ‘liberal’

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