Soapbox Issues

Terrorism is not just in the west

I have typed and erased, typed and erased. I can’t seem to find the words to eloquently describe my thoughts and feelings. And yet, I really need to write this post. I really need to get my thoughts out.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that on Friday the 13th, a coordinated terrorist attack killed 129 people in Paris and left several more injured. In Australia, it was the morning of the 14th when news first broke. Our news networks continued to update us long into the night.

There were #PrayersforParis and waving the French flag at our sporting games. The Opera house was coloured in blue, white and red and the French flag flown on the Harbour Bridge. Our leaders came out loud and strong about standing together with France and fighting terrorism together. As they rightly should. My Facebook news feed was filled with updated profile pictures in blue, white and red. Because after all, it was devastating and it affects us all, right?

Rather unsurprisingly to me though, not much has been made about the terror attacks in Beirut the day before the Paris attacks. Did you know there was a terrorist attack in Lebanon? It was by the same group of terrorists as that in Paris. A couple of suicide bombers killed 47 people and injured about 200 more. It may not seem as large scale as the Parisian attacks but it still involved human beings. Yet, I didn’t hear about #PrayersforBeirut. I didn’t see the flag of Lebanon being flown. I didn’t see Facebook profile pictures donning the colours of the Lebanese flag. And I didn’t hear politicians talking about standing together with the people of Beirut. Isn’t this something that affects us all too?

I will predict that in days to come, there will be marches around the world. People will carry candles and continue to #PrayforParis. But will anyone remember the Lebanese? Or for that matter, will anyone remember the human beings who have been killed in terror attacks in countries like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Syria or any other place that’s not predominantly white? Will anyone ever light candles and walk in solidarity with these individuals who have also been innocent victims of extremist terror groups? Will anyone ever have their Facebook profile pictures donning the flags of these nations?

Growing up in India, I am no stranger to terror attacks. While I may have given up my Indian citizenship, I notice that my frustration at the western world to not acknowledge terrorist attacks in developing nations or non-white nations has not changed since I was a teenager. I remember hearing about 9/11 when I was 17. Even though I felt sorry for all the innocent people who had lost their lives back then, I also remember thinking — America never gives a shit when terrorists kill people in India.

I know now that neither does Australia or the UK or any other country in the western world. How many people knew about terrorist attacks by extremists in Mumbai in 1993? 259 people died and about 700 were injured. What about the 2006 Mumbai train bombings when 209 people died in coordinated attacks and over 500 were injured. I was living in Australia by then. I heard a passing segment about it on the morning news and that was it. After frantically contacting my family and friends to ensure their safety, I later had to follow the details on Indian news sites. There were no more updates here. On the other hand, the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai had widespread coverage. It drew global condemnation. The reason? The terrorists this time held hostage several Australians, British and American nationals in addition to the Indians they killed.

It’s not just India though. I guess I speak more about it because I’ve grown up there. Because I know the fear of the possibility of bombs going off in trains when I was on my way to college or in places I frequented. Yet, it didn’t stop me from living my life then. Maybe because it wasn’t as bad as some other countries. Yes, I’m referring to Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan among others who have it much, much worse.

Sadly, the world will still only remember the anniversary of 9/11 for the Americans or the 7/11 for the Brits. They will now remember 13/11 for the French. But will anyone remember the rest of the world? The ones who face bombings on a far more regular basis? The ones for whom terror is a part of life?

It appears that some lives matter more than others. It appears that the western world only wants to show its outrage at selective terror attacks.

Yet, in the end, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or class, we are all human beings. And we are all being targetted by the extremists.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t grieve for Paris. I’m saying we should currently grieve for Beirut as well.

We should be mourning the loss of humanity.

We should be praying for the wellbeing of human beings.

We should be praying for peace.

***Linking with Kirsty, Alicia, Write Tribe and Jess***

Until next time,


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  • Fiona
    16 November 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Australia doesn’t care about attacks in Asia unless it affects their cricket tours :/

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      16 November 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Haha…sorry I had to laugh because I do remember that! Of course we remember the Pakistani attacks because our cricketers can no longer go there. And I think the Sri Lanka ones from 1996. It’s sad though that it’s the only time it makes news here.

  • fatima
    16 November 2015 at 9:01 pm

    thank you sanch. all human life matters

  • Hugzilla
    16 November 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Beautifully said. I have to admit, the FB profile pics with the Paris flags made me feel a bit icky, not because we shouldn’t care about what happened in France, but because we should be just as upset about terror no matter where it happens. I know it’s a lot more complicated than that – and involves a lot of historical and cultural exchanges – but you’ve summed it up very well here.

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      16 November 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Yeah I couldn’t bring myself to update my profile picture…not because I didn’t care what happened there but because I felt it was an injustice to all other human lives lost to terrorism in other countries on an ongoing basis. I guess you’re right about the cultural and historical knowledge…I tried explaining to Mr Imperfect and hearing his side as well and I think as a nation, Aus does identify with France but it doesn’t mean we ignore the others.

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    16 November 2015 at 9:34 pm

    This is the reason I haven’t changed my profile picture – it’s not just about Paris. It’s about every country. I’m saddened that we do seem to elevate the pain of some countries above others – it’s true.
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  • Vanessa
    16 November 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Honestly, 9/11 doesn’t stick in my head much. I don’t know if I had heard of the twin towers before it so I didn’t “get” the scale of it.
    The London bombings certainly stick in my head, but that’s because I was living just outside London & working (usually, thankfully not that day) in central London.
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  • Tegan
    16 November 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Beautifully written. Like the others I didn’t change my profile picture because of similar reasons you’ve outlined. Plus I saw people on my newsfeed posting hate filled status updates and memes about Muslim people alongside those pray for Paris ones. It made me feel like it had become a symbol for bigotry not love.
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 November 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Oh the hate…sadly I think it’s only going to get worse. Why can’t people understand that we are all being affected by the same extremists? Even the Muslims. It’s such a shame.

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    16 November 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I couldn’t agree more … why is it some counties, or some people, matter more than others when it comes to reporting the news …
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  • Zita
    16 November 2015 at 11:10 pm

    I absolutely agree with you! I was so angry/upset when I read a post yesterday about the other attacks that have happened this week that have not rated a mention! The other thing that angers me is the number of journalists and crew members that have flown over to Paris to provide us with ‘rolling coverage’.. I’m sorry but we don’t need rolling coverage and our Foreign Minister has advised Australians not to travel there so why do our television networks think it appropriate to send hoards of journalists!!!
    Good on you for writing about this as I know it must be very close to your heart and difficult to write about.
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      19 November 2015 at 5:52 am

      I know, right? I was even more shocked after finding out on Media watch about a few other attacks last month I’d not heard about. As for the rolling coverage, you rarely see that from Iraq or Afghanistan, do you?

  • Vinodini Iyer
    16 November 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I doesn’t matter, where this has happened. People have lost their lives and so brutally at that is what is extremely perturbing. The fact that some part of it did not get covered while some parts got highlighted is yet another issue at hand.
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  • Amy @ Handbagmafia
    16 November 2015 at 11:32 pm

    This is why I didn’t use the french flag filter. So eloquently put, Sanch.
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  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    17 November 2015 at 10:26 am

    I admit I did apply the french flag filter to my profile picture. I did it though to show my solidarity to ALL countries, ALL people affected by terrorism. If there was a filter that more accurately showed that – I would choose that instead. I DO care about all human life regardless of what country they come from, the colour of their skin, or their religion. By applying that filter I was not snubbing all other countries that had been affected by terrorism and I’m sure the same could be said for most people that applied that filter. I do think it is appalling that there have been other terrorist attacks that have not been mentioned in the news and that we have not been made aware of.
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  • Bec @ Seeing the Lighter Side
    17 November 2015 at 1:16 pm

    The tragic thing about media coverage of constantly war torn places is that people tune out – oh just another bombing in Iraq etc. When it’s a place they perceive to be ‘safe’, like Paris, people are more likely to take notice. A bigger problem, I think, is that people tend to empathise with tragedies that happen to be people they can relate to. It’s when that ‘otherness’ kicks in that people feel they can ignore what’s happening even if it’s far more horrific. #TeamIBOT
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  • Deborah
    17 November 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Absolutely Sanch. Media Watch did a great job at pointing that out on TV last night and talked about previous responses to similar tragedies – when attacks elsewhere (middle east, africa etc) garnered far less media attention.
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  • Paula
    17 November 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I’m an American, and your right, our news doesn’t talk about these other nations. Most of us don’t know what’s going there. But we should because like you said – all life matters!
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  • EssentiallyJess
    17 November 2015 at 10:04 pm

    I think what Bec said makes sense. Not that it’s ok, but just that that’s how people think.
    I’ve been examining my own thoughts on this, because I think I’ve been too easily sucked into the western media way of thinking and I don’t want to be.
    All lives do matter, and we should never think of any terrorism event as less shocking than another.
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  • Bellybytes
    18 November 2015 at 9:30 am

    How true. Terror attacks have become commonplace and universal but only some get more media coverage than others….To paraphrase George Orwell, all terror attacks are equal, some more equal than others. C’est la vie!
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  • Rajlakshmi
    18 November 2015 at 12:15 pm

    As long as racism exists, the terror attacks won’t stop neither will the prejudiced media coverage. It all begins with one person.. .US. To be frank I find facebook profile change very insulting and hypocritical because there are people who are dying over there and all we are doing is leisurely changing profile pictures. Prayers don’t help, action does … and I wonder how many of those who prayed didn’t abuse and blamed a whole community. I am raised in a terror prone state and I have seen how easily people become nonchalant regarding terror attacks.
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  • Alicia
    18 November 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Those last three lines say it all. It worries me what is to become of the world. All I can do is be kind, tolerant and have compassion for my fellow humans.
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