The recent Paris attacks are, above all, from whatever angle they are disseminated, a tragedy. The togetherness shown in supporting the victims of ISIS in recent days and weeks is extraordinary. However, there is a danger we’re missing the full picture. We have a tendency to forget a large proportion of victims around the world are Muslims. And the media is to blame for this.
Terrorist attacks on Beirut, which killed 43, took place just a day earlier, and had been on the ‘international wrap-up’ sections for many notable news agencies, getting little more than 10 minutes of airtime. Unfortunately, the subsequent attention the attacks got after the Paris bombings felt like second-hand sympathies by comparison, overshadowed by a familiar failure to give all victims of terrorist attacks the necessary coverage in our media.
What should have been covered extensively, and reported as a warning shot, turned into an afterthought. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought the issue to light by claiming the “media needs be able to report things that happen outside of Europe as well as inside. A life is a life.”
Corbyn went on to emphasise that the media reaction could spur on a larger attack in Syria by Britain which would only result in, “more conflict, more mayhem, and more loss”.
Corbyn’s statements will hopefully force politicians and the general populous to ask bigger questions about what is fuelling the conflict.
The attackers appear to be indiscriminate. Violence in Beirut shows how no single national group is immune from ISIS’ terror campaign. Lebanon specifically has had a difficult relationship with ISIS, reminding the world that the first victims of such atrocities are always the ones closest to the source.
"The attackers appear to be indiscriminate. Violence in Beirut shows how no single national group is immune from ISIS’ terror campaign"
While Paris might strike closer to the bone for many European nations, the victims of ISIS’ reign in the Middle East are forced to deal with such harsh realities on a daily basis. Their everyday struggles are what Paris experienced on Saturday; their voices however, are less likely to be heard.
In the midst of an ever-escalating refugee crisis, the attacks on Paris force us to consider our own personal stance on mass immigration and the majority of Muslims who have tried desperately to achieve a place within European society.
Droves of Syrians and Palestinians alike are embarking on a dangerous exodus to escape the very organization that threatens the functioning of Europe and the Western world. Their stories are those of unrelenting hardship, they are of escaping death at every corner with only a fleeting hope of ever reaching safety. The more the media focuses on them personally, rather than on the immigration policies of each country, the more likely the Western world is to begin to understand, and more frequently acknowledge what they have to go through, and the more likely we are to arrive at a more humane answer to the problems plaguing the region.
The narrative is unlikely to change. More bombs are likely to be dropped, and more innocents are sure to be killed in the inevitable cross fire. If the media is to restore itself, it must rid its unilateral focus and educate the masses about the bigger picture. It must also empower people to arrive at their own conclusions.