The question is being asked – why was there not more attention placed on the Beirut terrorist attacks?
The tragic terrorist attacks on Paris where 129 innocent civilians were murdered left the world in shock and in mourning. My 12 year old kept asking me “Why mama? Why?”
I felt the physical pain in my chest, knowing that whatever I say should define the immoral and inhuman act of terrorism. It is hard enough to explain how diabetes took his grandfather’s life at 82. But finding the words to explain evil is quite painful especially when it is on a scale of a massacre. Crimes against humanity are probably the toughest to explain to your children.
Then it gets on another dimension: As the global outpouring of grief engulfed social media and monuments around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag; Facebook featured the French tricolor option to overlay on profile pics and also launched ‘Safety Check’ which asks users in a given location to confirm that they are safe; but where was the cedar of the Lebanese flag?
A day before the terrorist attack on Paris, suicide bombers killed 43 people in the southern suburbs of Beirut and both of these consecutive terrorist attacks were claimed by the Islamic State. What is also deeply disturbing is how nothing even came out in traditional media or even references to the tragedy in Beirut. The first time I heard of the terrorist attack on Beirut was from a Lebanese friend on Facebook, with one single post. The backlash suddenly hit a few media outlets where news reporters and columnists became defensive on why they practically ignored coverage of the double suicide attack in Beirut.
The defensive claimed that Paris is relatively peaceful compared to Beirut; failing to acknowledge the fact that this has been the deadliest attack since 1990 when the civil war ended in Lebanon. Being a former colony of France and Beirut being historically branded as the “Paris of the Middle East”; journalists who are schooled in drawing references would see how a massive terrorist attack within a day of each other perpetuated by the same terrorist organization must be brought to the world’s attention.
There are 1.55 billion active Facebook users in the world and the power of this social media giant is defining how we see the news. Why was not the “Safety Check” function activated for Beirut as well? How about the one-click overlay of the colours of the Lebanese flag? Facebook has now been criticized on the double standards they have demonstrated with the Paris and Beirut attacks. Facebook has recently activated “Safety Check” in Nigeria after the Yola blast that killed 32 people last Tuesday.
No one can judge how we should grieve but media outlets have a responsibility for objectivity. I dare you to explain the crime of omission to a 12 year old.