Why is there such a high level of hypocrisy? Why are the lives of Europeans put on a pedestal while the lives of others seem to be of less importance?
On the morning of March 22, I, like many others, was saddened to hear about the three coordinated bombings that shook Brussels, taking 32 lives and injuring over 300 people. The world came together to show solidarity with the people of Belgium. Word of the terrorist attack spread like wildfire across social media as #PrayersForBrussels trended on Twitter and thousands of people changed their profile picture to the Belgian flag on Facebook. Major international networks covered the attack as breaking news for days, putting their best reporters on the story and examining multiple angles. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin all lit up in the colours of the Belgian flag. World leaders and senior figures expressed compassion and concern about the attacks through public statements.
The same was seen when Paris was attacked in November last year, but equal attention was hardly given to non-Western countries who fell victim to similar atrocities. In five months two cities in Turkey, Ankara and Istanbul, have been attacked three times with a total death count of over 176 souls, yet there has been less global sympathy shown for it.
More recently, on Easter Sunday, a suicide blast in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore, killed at least 69 people and injured 341 others. #PrayersforLahore did not trend on Twitter, famous world landmarks were not lit up in the Pakistani flag and news channels did not cover the story as extensively as they did with the Brussels attack.
On February 1, 2016, at least 86 people, including a number of children, were killed in a series of attacks on a village in north-eastern Nigeria. Again, the attack did not receive the same attention as those that occurred in Paris and Brussels.
As a journalism student, I not only follow news but analyse the news itself. The extreme hole in reporting not only baffles me as a future member of the media but as a human. Why is there such a high level of hypocrisy? Why are the lives of Europeans put on a pedestal while the lives of others seem to be of less importance?
I know I am not alone in comparing responses to the atrocities that have occurred in various countries. Media houses have come under public scrutiny for their different reactions to terrorist attacks in European cities to those in the rest of the world.
Will Gore, deputy managing editor of The Independent in the United Kingdom, responded to the public in an opinion piece. “It is true to say that our coverage of the airport and metro explosions in the Belgian capital was more extensive. Isn’t a triple suicide bombing in the capital of Belgium more surprising than a terrorist attack in Turkey? Not more appalling, not more deadly, not more grotesque, but more unexpected and unpredictable? Surely it is.”
It’s understandable that not every terrorist attack is deemed newsworthy due to the high level of attacks that have occurred recently. However, with the rise of social media my hope was that society would move away from relying on media to dictate which lives should and shouldn’t be mourned.
Regardless of how much coverage each attack gets, does the world not have a duty to offer the same heartfelt sympathy for victims of brutal violence outside of the West as we did for those killed in Paris or Brussels?