And here we are again; waking up to the painful realization that this wonderful life we’ve created for ourselves in the West isn’t in a bubble, that our actions have consequences.
Decade after decade of cutting up, blowing up and exploiting the Middle East has created a level of hostility that has reached a boiling point.
The attacks in Paris were shocking and horrifying. It became an international crisis in seconds, with the global community coming together and embracing France in its time of need. Facebook created a safety check-in system, tons of people put the French flag on their profile pictures and everyone started to “pray for Paris.”
But the truth is, attacks like Paris are everyday life for many in the Middle East.
Lebanon has experienced two very similar attacks in the past 2 years with very little media coverage. The most recent was only a day before the Paris massacre, in Beirut.
The attack left over 40 dead and 200 more injured. But Facebook didn’t create a safety system for them, and no one changed their profile picture to a Lebanese flag either.
Nigeria lost 50 to a Boko Haram attack just this Wednesday. Baghdad was bombed a month ago leaving 13 dead, and it too had almost zero international coverage.
What about Syrians or Iraqis, aren’t they in need? Don’t the people of Nigeria and Lebanon deserve our prayer and compassion right now too?
Maybe we have just become accustomed to war and strife in the Middle East, but that doesn’t justify our almost complete lack of empathy for the Muslim community. And that lack of empathy is obvious to them, especially here at home, with an increase in anti-Muslim crimes and rhetoric similar to after the Sept. 11 attacks.
It is something French Muslims are all too familiar with. In 1961 at the height of the Algerian War, upwards of 30,000 people marched in support of Algerian independence from France. The French police brutally crushed the protesters, arresting 7,500 and killing dozens of people. It’s no surprise at least one of the attackers has been identified as Algerian.
The French government has officially acknowledged 40 of the deaths, but many estimates put it as high as 200. Yet this has been left entirely out of the discussion when we talk about Paris and why it happened.
When a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, we blame the entire religion. But when a White Christian like Paul Jennings Hill or Eric Rudolph does it, there’s never an outcry against Christianity. You don’t see Fox News hosts calling for churches to be closed or closing the borders to just Christians.
Yes, we have very different cultures. Maybe we do relate the French more than the Lebanese. But that doesn’t mean they care any less when one of their family members dies. It doesn’t mean we can’t pay attention and pray for them either.
We talk a lot in America about equality and caring for our neighbor, no matter who they are.
But we live in an intricately connected world now, and like it or not we are a big part of the global community. These people are our neighbors too, and they deserve the same love and respect our French counterparts have been getting.
It’s time for America and the international media to step up and show the world terrorism isn’t Islamic or Christian, it’s just terrorism.