Published On: Mon, Nov 16th, 2015

Unbalanced media coverage for Lebanon and Paris attacks

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Bombings in Beirut, on Thursday November 12, killed 43 people.

A pair of motorcycle-mounted suicide bombers left a further 200 injured. These were tragic news for sure, and the worst bombing since Beirut’s civil war ended in 1990, but largely reduced to geopolitics: The attack was claimed by ISIS, or the Islamic State, and it took place in a neighborhood that was a stronghold for Hizballah, which is fighting in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad, with backing from Iran.

International coverage didn’t dwell on the fallout or the families left behind, an omission that makes it seem almost inevitable that it will happen again.

Which brings us to the traumatic events in Paris on Friday night.

Already the victims are being named, their brief biographies sketched out in a way that makes this attack much more personal.

The venues are familiar to thousands of tourists with happy holiday memories of those streets and bars and clubs, and millions more around the world who know Paris as the City of Love.

Beirut is a cosmopolitan city of culture, but it is not Paris, France.

Much has been made of the disparity of coverage between two attacks, one day apart, and claimed by the same terrorist group.

Today Lebanon holds a day of national mourning after at least 43 people were killed in the deadliest attacks in the capital since the end of the civil war in the year 1990, but for some reason, Lebanese victims haven’t gotten the same attention as French ones.

Just like the victims in Paris, these 41 Lebanese civilians were killed at random, in a bustling urban area, while going about their normal evening business.

Around the crime scenes in south Beirut and central Paris alike, a sense of shock and sadness lingered into the weekend, with cafes and markets quieter than usual.

Hawraa Taleb weeps near her maternal cousin Haidar Mustafa, a three-year-old who was wounded in Thursday's twin suicide bombings, as he sleeps on a bed at the Rasoul Aazam Hospital in Burj al-Barajneh, southern Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Haidar's parents Hussein and Leila were killed in the blast as they were parking their car when one of two suicide attackers blew himself up in a southern Beirut suburb near their vehicle.

Hawraa Taleb weeps near her maternal cousin Haidar Mustafa, a three-year-old who was wounded in Thursday’s twin suicide bombings, as he sleeps on a bed at the Rasoul Aazam Hospital in Burj al-Barajneh, southern Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Haidar’s parents Hussein and Leila were killed in the blast as they were parking their car when one of two suicide attackers blew himself up in a southern Beirut suburb near their vehicle. (Photo: csmonitor.com)

Monuments around the world were lit up in the colors of the French flag; presidential speeches touted the need to defend “shared values.” But none of them mentioned Beirut.

Even Facebook offered users a one-click option to overlay their profile pictures with the French tricolor, a service not offered for the Lebanese flag.

Numerous Lebanese citizens and media complained about the fact that Facebook’s “safety check” feature wasn’t offered in Lebanon after bombings there. Is there a Western standard and a Middle Eastern standard?

Now people in Beirut ask themselves if Arab lives mattered less than French lives…

 

“Paris is a tragedy. Beirut is a tragedy. And the fact that Beirut ‘matters’ less than Paris is a tragedy,” one Twitter user wrote.

 

Sources:

  • nytimes.com
  • CNN
  • BBC
  • csmonitor.com

 

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