This weekend, as the events of the Paris terrorist attacks unfolded, the news took the Western world by storm. TV stations covered the breaking news, online publications published up-to-the-minute reports and Facebook created a safety check for people in Paris to inform their friends and family that they were safe. Today, there is an outpouring of support as people offer their prayers for the Parisian people and change their profile pictures to add Facebook’s overlay with the French colors to show their solidarity. This unification in the face of terror attacks is beautiful and exactly what the world needs in the face of a crisis.
But this is just one crisis. Just one day before, a brutal double suicide bombing struck a shopping center at rush hour in the city of Beirut, Lebanon killing 43 people and injuring over 200. Among the victims were children and Syrian refugees whose lives continue to be ripped apart again and again. This violence is the worst the city has seen in years. Just like the Parisian terrorist attacks, ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for these bombings. Just like the Parisian attacks, families were ripped apart and lives devastated. Just like the Parisian attacks, victims were not in a warzone, but in a community area they believed to be safe. But unlike the Parisian terrorist attacks, there was no outpour of support from the global community, no show of solidarity in the face of terror, no profile picture for the victims of Beirut. To many this was just another flash of violence in the tumultuous Middle East, but as soon as Paris saw violence the world came to arms. Does no one else see a problem with this? Why is there such a double standard? Why are we mourning Parisians while not considering the lives lost in Lebanon?
On November 4th, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Egypt. Four days earlier on October 31st, the group proudly declared itself accountable for the crashing of a Russian plane in Egypt that killed 224 travelers. As a matter of fact, November 13th, the same exact day as the Parisian attacks, 26 Iraqis were killed in a roadside bombing.The list could go on and on; the fact of the matter is, ISIS’s terror is not a new problem. For years, the jihadist group has been taking innocent lives and terrorizing the citizens of Syria and the rest of the Middle East. Syria has practically been reduced to a wasteland, as families cannot live in a country infested with civil war and militant Islamists. But for some reason, it is so much easier for people to turn a blind eye on this devastation. Maybe because Paris hits closer to home, maybe because we think the Western world is separate from the horrors of ISIS–while the Middle East has been categorized and written off as a breeding ground for violence, people think of the cultural hub of Paris as unquestionably safe, so terror attacks come as a bigger shock. Thus, the question begs to be asked: Why are we placing a higher value on white Judeo-Christian lives lost than brown Muslim lives? Regardless of who or where attacks happen, our response to terrorism and loss of life should be the same from Paris to Lebanon and everywhere else in between.
This article is not meant to minimize the amount of pain being suffered in Paris. My heart aches for the victims and the beautiful city. Paris is and will continue to be in my prayers–but so will the rest of the world. This instead is a call to action. I challenge everyone to care for the rest of the world as they do for Paris. Everyone needs our support not just today but in the trying times to come. In a few weeks time when the shock of the Parisian attacks wear down, Syrians will still be suffering at the hands of ISIS, as will Egyptians, Lebanese, Yemeni, Iraqis, Jordanians, and so many others. There may not be a Facebook overlay with Lebanon’s flag, but the victims of Beirut need our support as well. So while you’re praying for Paris, don’t forget to pray for the rest of the world suffering too.