Since the new wave of Paris attacks on last Friday, the mainstream media plunged into Paris and covered the heinous terrorist attack that took away 129 civilian lives. The media covered the attacks with utmost importance, making headlines after headlines.
This is something we all should appreciate. What is shocking is that the same media ignored a massive terrorist attack in Lebanon's capital Beirut just a day earlier. Literally, the mainstream media had ignored the Beirut attack.
US President Obama said in a statement soon after the Paris attacks that, “This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”. But, President Obama did not make an official statement in response to the Beirut attacks. This kind of double standard made people suspicious and led them to question the integrity and responsibility of the media and world leaders.
Similarly, leading social media site Facebook has implemented its "safety check" feature for the attacks in Paris, and it also introduced a feature allowing users to place an overlay of the French flag on their display pictures to express solidarity with the attack.
On the other hand, Facebook did nothing of similar kind after the deadly bomb blasts in Beirut, that killed 43 people and left 239 others wounded. This double standard of Facebook created an outrage among its users. Many critiqued the apparent disparity in reactions to the Beirut-Paris attacks, arguing that the deaths in Beirut did not seem to matter as much as the deaths in Paris.
Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoub criticized the apparent disparity, saying that, “We don't get a safe button on Facebook. 'We' don't get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users”.
There is no doubt that what happened in the terrorist attacks in Paris had been outrageously condemnable, and therefore it deserves sincere media attention from all around the world. Also, this is indeed an attack on humanity, people’s freedom, valuable lives and innocent civilians. The attack was heinous, evil, terroristic and sickening.
But what about Beirut? The same words should be said, same media attention should be given; it also deserves statement from world leaders and condemnation worldwide. But once again, the media and world leaders proved that ‘Western lives are more valued than non-Western ones’.
This kind of double standard is not only unjust but dangerous, given the fact that many would not mourn or show solidarity for the victims (Paris Attacks victims, for example), knowing the hypocritical double standard that exists in the media.
This kind of condemnable double standard of media and world leaders must be stopped, and equal attention should be paid to victims, irrespective of their nationalities, ethnicity, colors and religions.
The writer is a Masters candidate in English Literary Studies at the Department of English Language and Literature, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur. He can be reached at [email protected]
BDST: 2003 HRS, NOV 17, 2015