As we stand with France, let us stand with the rest of the fallen victims

Sami Hamdi Western Europe

Paris was rocked by a devastating attack claiming over 200 lives. The disgraceful and shameless terrorist attack, claimed by ISIS, has sent shockwaves around the world with a minute’s silence observed in different countries and Facebook launching a ‘stand with Paris’ feature that allows the profile picture to be draped in French colours. The deplorable loss of innocent lives has once again rejuvenated the debate as to how to contain ISIS.

France has been active in the Middle East, playing a key role in brokering the Iran Nuclear Deal and participating in air strikes in Syria. It is likely therefore that this is a key reason behind the latest attack and an example of what the UK Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to avoid in his decision not to participate in air strikes on Syria.

However the darker and more dangerous reality that has been brought to the fore as the chaos settles is that the reaction to this tragedy is far more passionate, far more endearing, far more heart-breaking and moving, than the reaction to the victims of two catastrophic suicide bombs in Lebanon the night before; the millions of displaced Syrians; those under incessant bombing; those being rejected and abused by the media as economic ‘parasites’; the families who died crossing the Mediterranean; the Rohingya; the Egyptians being beaten, tortured, and raped in prisons; the Palestinians being shot arbitrarily and hearing the taunts of the Zionists’ ‘Die! Die scum!’; the African-Americans being abused daily by the security services; the Arabs being murdered brutally and indiscriminately by ISIS in Iraq and Syria; the family in Jelma (Tunisia) of the victim who was beheaded and whose head was given to his brother to take home to his family on Friday; the list could go on…

The point here is not necessarily the limited media coverage of the above, nor do any of these events belittle the Paris attacks in that they are disgraceful, unjustified and utterly abominable. Instead, the point is that minutes of silence were not observed for the above. Even if we argue that the Syrian matter is politicised, as is perhaps the Rohingya situation in that there are two camps each blaming the other for the chaos, there are no ‘two’ camps regarding the disgraceful attacks in Lebanon for example. It was a deplorable and disgraceful act that every sane human being regardless of race, colour, ethnicity or nationality would condemn.

Therefore, why did Facebook not create a feature to drape your profile picture in Lebanon’s colours? Or Kenya’s colours following the Garissa shooting? Why did the US not observe a minute’s silence for Lebanon or the families who died in crossing the Mediterranean? Why did Presidents from around the world not come together for a ‘million-man’ march? Why did these events not instigate the frantic debate taking place and influence even the Democrat candidates’ debate last night which was dominated by discussions on the Paris attacks and foreign policy?

Once again, this does not belittle the gravity of the Paris attacks. But these are valid questions.

Responses to these claims include quotes such as ‘they are used to it there’ or ‘it happens every day there’ or ‘it’s normal there and not here’, demonstrating a lack of awareness and grave disconnect with their brothers and sisters in humanity around the world. Moreover, whilst we talk of a globalised world, it is clear that there is a lack of understanding as to what this means; that the violent actions of our governments abroad will inevitably bring violence back home whether we are innocent or not.

This does not justify the attacks in any way. Rather it is to demonstrate the illusionary bubble that many live in when they ask, just as the Syrian refugees ask, ‘Why us? Why here? What did we do to deserve this?’.

Perhaps the West simply appreciate their blood more than everyone else appreciates their own. Indeed, Arab governments and heads of states have not conducted million man marches nor called for any at any point in response to any terrorist attack, be it Lebanon, or the attack in Sousse (Tunisia), or the regular devastating bombings in the Baghdad marketplaces and the rest of Iraq that have claimed thousands of innocent lives. However at least in this case, we can claim that these governments and institutions have some sort of consistency in their responses. The problem with the global reaction to Paris is not that it is over-exaggerated, for one can never over-exaggerate in their grief for their brothers and sisters in humanity innocently and indiscriminately killed, nor the minutes silence or the extensive debate taking place, for these are necessary and a proud mark of respect for the fallen. Rather it is that the extent to which we express our grief for certain groups of people pales in comparison to what we are showing for Paris today.

We should remember Paris. And stand with Paris. And stand in solidarity with France. And in the same way we do that, we should not differentiate them with the other victims around the world. As we stand in a minutes silence for France or lay the wreaths where the victims fell, let us dedicate them also to the victims of other devastating tragedies around the world.

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Sami Hamdi is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest. An experienced geopolitical risk consultant, Sami assists blue-chip clients around the world in monitoring and advising on highly volatile business environments.

Sami has extensive experience in the MENA region having been a television reporter and talk-show host for over 10 years. He has reported on key events in the region including the Arab Spring, the fall of Morsi in Egypt, the Houthi crisis in Yemen, as well as the battle of influences between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In his freetime, Sami is a passionate and stubborn Arsenal fan, and loves travelling. Perhaps a bit too much…