Column: The fight against terrorism is global
Eliminating terrorism should be a global movement, not just a Western one.
Nov. 17, 2015
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
I was too young to remember what happened during 9/11. Sure, I have fuzzy memories of the day like many of my peers. But I do not remember the fear. I do not remember watching the TV as 3,000 people died in front of my eyes. I do not remember being scared in my own country, my own town, my own home. I do not remember the absolute terror that gripped a nation and continues to do so 14 years later. However, since Nov. 13, I have a clearer understanding of what the rest of the world went through watching 9/11 occur as I watched Paris fall into chaos.
I learned about the Paris attacks almost immediately after. As soon as everyone got wind of what was happening, French flags and symbols were strewn all over social media feeds and news applications. From French flag filters on Facebook to safety checks for people in Paris, the world was on high alert. Anyone who was anyone in politics made a public statement, and countries offered full-fledged support of France by lighting up their famous landmarks in the colors of the French flag. Meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower fell dark.
The horrific event lasted just about three hours in total, culminating in seven different attacks by at least seven terrorists. According to The Telegraph, current figures put the death toll at 129 with 352 others injured and 99 critically injured. Eighty-nine of those deaths occurred at the Bataclan concert venue, where the gunmen held 1,500 concert-goers hostage for about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
As the weekend passed, the Paris hysteria didn’t die down. More and more political leaders made speeches in solidarity with the people of France. Some U.S. presidential candidates, like Hillary Clinton, made powerful statements vowing to defeat ISIS. Sen. Ted Cruz blamed Obama for weak foreign policy while Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio emphasized the need for tougher leadership.
But I soon began to notice the glaring discrepancies and hypocrisies the Western world was perpetuating by supporting France in this manner. We have failed to give this kind of support to the many countries in the Middle East experiencing similar events on a daily basis.
Just last Thursday, a day before the Paris attacks, Beirut, Lebanon suffered double suicide bombings in an open-air market, which detonated within 490 feet of each other and lasted for five minutes, according to CNN. The bombings killed 43 and wounded another 239, while damaging four nearby buildings. A suicide bomber who survived the attack by failing to detonate his vest said he was an ISIS recruit.
Yet, the world barely took notice. No countries lit up their monuments with the Lebanese flag. Social media did not buzz with news and filters. Political leaders were not vocalizing support to the Lebanese government and their citizens. If our government wants to denounce terrorism and offer a helpful hand in defeating forces like ISIS, we have to do it to all countries that suffer from terroristic acts, not just Western ones.
Some of the remarks made by political leaders have been somewhat disappointing as well. Trump said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday that he would be willing to shut down mosques because “some of the hatred — the absolute hatred — is coming from these areas.” Republican governors in some states have also already closed their borders to incoming Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks.
Although the attacks in Paris are deeply disturbing and immensely disheartening, they should not be a reason to foster the idea of Islamophobia. An ABC poll has showed that in the U.S., Islamophobia after 9/11 is on the rise. According to FBI statistics, anti-Islamic hate crimes jumped 1600 percent after 9/11. There is a very strong chance that many statistics such as these will be replicated around the world after the Nov. 13 attacks. That’s just what ISIS wants: for the world to be so terrified that they turn against their own innocent citizens.
The attacks in Paris once again frightened the world to the core. The senseless terrorism that occurs today should be condemned in all respects. However, the Western world also has to acknowledge the struggles that those in the Middle East face with the same terror. The New York Times quoted the words of Nour Kabbach, a humanitarian aid in Beirut, stating “... ask yourself what it would be like to have to explain to your child why an attack in ‘another pretty city like yours’ got worldwide attention and your own did not.”