During my 6th period Spanish class on Friday I received a text from my best friend: “Did you hear about Paris?” I wondered what she meant: was she talking about the place? Or was Paris a person? Was she going there for Christmas break? “No, omg” I quickly typed. “What???” Her response came seconds later: “terrorist attacks- at least 60 people killed. we’re watching the news in my French class…it’s horrible.”
When I got home I started googling and found a live stream of the news in Paris. As I watched I started crying. The seven coordinated attacks on Paris left at least 129 dead and 352 wounded. Those who died were innocent civilians who had planned on having a nice Friday evening attending a soccer match, listening to music at a concert, or enjoying a meal at a restaurant. This was the largest terrorist attack on a first world country since 9/11, and the first one that I was old enough to understand.
The next morning I found out that two other countries had been recipients of terrorist attacks in the same 24-hour period. I was taken aback. TWO MORE terrorist attacks that I had absolutely no idea about? How had I not found out about this sooner? Where were the media headlines? Where were the hashtags? Where was the concern for the safety of the citizens living in the two countries where 60 other individuals had been killed by terrorists?
Last Thursday, a day before the terrorist attacks in Paris, a double suicide bombing in Beirut killed 43 civilians and injured 200. On Friday, just hours before the attacks in Paris, 18 individuals attending Shia fighter’s funeral were killed by a suicide bomber. So why have these attacks been given a fraction of the attention dedicated to Paris?
Paris is all over the news and social media. Lots of people have chosen to take advance of a Facebook feature that allows them to change their profile picture to show the French flag as a small gesture to show that they care about the victims of the attacks. Other social media platforms such as Snapchat have also created filters that allow users to show solidarity with Paris, and for the past few days nearly every other post on my Instagram feed has included the hashtag #priezpourparis. Monuments all around the world have been lit up with the colors of the French flag, and President Obama made a statement about the attacks on Paris but did not speak about those in Lebanon and Iraq. Instagram and Facebook posts continue to ask us to #prayforparis, but I have not encountered a single post that asks me to #prayforbeirut or #prayforbaghdad.
I am devastated by the terrorist attacks on Paris but also extremely disappointed that the recent incidents in Lebanon and Iraq have not been given the same attention. While it is important that we continue to show our support for Paris, we must also consider that France is not the only country that has been targeted in the past week. As poet and blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh said in a recent post, “It’s time to pray for humanity. It’s time to make all places beloved. It’s time to pray for the world.”