Why did the Paris attacks get significantly more news coverage when the Beirut bombings went largely ignored?
On Nov. 12, two suicide bombers detonated outside a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. A day later, there were multiple attacks in Paris. With the two cities still reeling, world leaders lined up to express their condolences and show solidarity–but there was overwhelming silence regarding the tragedy in Lebanon.
“When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck among the international news cycle, something that happens in THOSE parts of the world,” stated Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor lamenting the tragedy on his blog, “A Separate State of Mind.”
Terrorism is the same, whether it happens to Lebanese or Parisians. If the international community is really suffering from all this terrorism, they should react to terrorism with the same kind of condemnation and rigor in Lebanon as it has been shown in France.
The implication of this, some argue, is that Arab lives matter less, but the answer isn’t as simple as just racism. But why was there such a large empathy gap in media coverage and support from around the world?
Is it the frequency of horrific events that desensitizes us, or the familiarity of one place over another?
Facebook received backlash for failing to introduce their Safety Check feature for the Beirut bombings.
The Safety Check feature allows people to confirm the safety status of loved ones during a crisis.
It was introduced to Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg little over a year ago, however, it wasn’t until the Paris attacks that many people started noticing the notification on their page: “[Name] was marked safe during Paris Terror Attacks.”
Vice President of Growth Alex Schultz addressed the issue in a recent status post, stating that, “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.’”
Although Beirut was once synonymous with violence, it’s important to note that this is the worst incidence of violence in the country since their civil war ended in 1990, with the death toll at 43 and 239 more injured, according to CNN.
While that idea is outdated, “Beirut was once considered the Paris of the Middle East,” after World War II with it’s heavy French influence, turning it into a glamorous tourist destination, according to Business Insider.
However, the attacks in Paris seemed more shocking because France is an unusual, unexpected target.
More than 2,000 miles from the current ISIS war zone in Syria, Paris is a top tourist destination.
This attack “suggests a new outward turn for the Islamic State,” according to The Washington Post. It’s concerning because an attack so far from ISIS headquarters potentially represents a “…more dangerous stage in the world’s war against ISIS as the terrorist group continues to mount increasingly sophisticated and deadly strikes around the globe,” according to Jon Levine of mic.com.
If politicians do not come forward and make a statement similar to those they made to show solidarity with Beirut as they did with Paris, it may show a huge clash between civilizations, creating a larger gap which feeds into the idea of us versus them.