Terrorism: East Versus West
“Where are your hashtags? Your stories acknowledging these lives lost? This is the first major terrorist attack in Pakistan since 2014. This is not a “norm”. Muslims are the most affected by terrorism. If this happened in a Western country everyone would be speaking about it. Apparently a dozen lives in the West are more important and are more deserving than 137 lost in a Muslim country. Muslims dying by terrorist deserve recognition and deserve to be mourned. Because this didn’t happen in a “developed” country, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be on mainstream news or your story. Muslim lives lost are lives lost too.”
In December 2014, when 149 people were killed (132 of which were school children ages 6 - 14), did you see it on CNN? Did you get a New York Times or Wall Street Journal notification informing you about a deathly terrorist attack that killed 132 children? Did you see BBC stopping local news to report the lives lost?
Because it happened in Peshawar.
On July 14th, 2018, Dawn announced that there had been a suicide bombing in Pakistan near polling booths. 137 people have died and the number is rising with at least 100 injured.
Process that number.
That’s 137 people (that we know of) who’ve been impacted by this attack. Tragedies happen all over the world on a regular basis. But why are we only informed of some of these attacks?
I’ve been to America many times before I actually moved there to attend university. I was always out and about and never really watched CNN or any popular news channel. Now that I’ve lived in America, I see that CNN only covers American news with little to no international stories. This infuriates me. Every time I turn on the TV or scroll through a website, I see the same anchors arguing about a Donald Trump tweet. Why is it that people can’t argue about more important issues? How about reporting on all the terrorism in The Gaza Strip? Syria? Pakistan? Debating over a Donald Trump tweet rather than the loss of 137 lives is despicable.
However, this isn’t the only issue. When 12 people die in a terrorist attack in a Western country, we hear of it. It’s a notification that pops up on your phone from CNN to Buzzfeed. It’s every single website’s blaring words “terrorist attack kills 12”. It’s on social media every other story is a #PrayFor(insert Western Country/City). When Muslims or any people in a “third world country” die in a terrorist attack, on a larger scale, it is rarely reported on. The media decides that 100+ people dying in a Muslim country is irrelevant.
These companies know they have huge scale, readership and accessibility to any and all news yet they choose to ignore issues that actually damage a whole group of people, who they think their readers don’t care for.
Because these terrorist attacks happen in a third world country, does that mean their lives are worth less than people living in the west? Does that mean 12 lives lost in America are more important than 237 injured and lost in Pakistan?
That’s certainly what the media implies by its actions.
How do we change this? How can we in our day to day lives make a tangible difference? Social media. Nowadays people check social media more than they read the news. When this attack in Pakistan had occurred, I quickly got onto all forms of social media to raise awareness of the issue. I wanted the lives lost to be ACKNOWLEDGED and I wanted to inform people of the attacks and what it meant. Though the news had broken nearly 12 hours before I found out about it upon waking up, most of my American friends hadn’t heard of the attack and had to hunt to find an article explaining it. If the news won’t inform your peers, it is your duty to use any platform you have to inform them. If you let one person know who otherwise wouldn’t have known of an attack, you’ve made a difference.
If our media won’t acknowledge these acts of terrorism in Muslim countries, then it is up to us to make it known. For those of us who identify from parts of the world that are constantly undermined and diminished, it is our job to inform others around us about what happens in our countries: the people who die, what it means politically, or what it means for our country as a whole.
How can you stay informed if you don’t identify with one of these countries? Follow multiple news sources. It’s easy to stick to one and get comfortable with it but the reality is that each major news site picks and chooses what to feature on their pages. Some will focus on a single Donald Trump tweet rather than the background of the actual issue and what it encompasses. I would highly recommend reading Al Jazeera which focuses and reports on a variety of topics but tends to have a good focus on West Asia and South Asia.
By informing one person of these attacks or who wouldn’t have otherwise known or staying aware about these issues, you’re making more of a difference than any of those negligent news channels do; you’re raising awareness.