Not Just Paris: Why Is Beirut’s Brutal Terrorist Attack Being Ignored?
Friday’s devastating attacks in Paris left hundreds dead or injured, paralyzed the city and brought ISIS’s terrorism to the Western world for the first time.
In the days since the attacks, love and support for the beloved French capital has poured out from every corner of the world. The Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House were lit in the colors of the French flag. Facebook quickly rolled out a tricolor profile picture filter so users could “support France and the people of Paris” and a “safety check” feature to allow people in Paris to alert their friends and family members that they were safe.
President Barack Obama noted that “this was an attack not just on Paris… not just on the people of France, but… on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”
But there was another ISIS attack late last week that was every bit as tragic. It took place in Beirut – the city that many of my ancestors called home, and where I now also live and work, as a foreign correspondent. Yet the attack was barely noticed in the West. As messages of solidarity with France flood my social media feeds, and friends and peers express horror at the atrocities committed, I’m left wondering why my own people — and my peers, who make up the bulk of my stories — aren’t deemed worthy of the same caliber of coverage, the same palpable collective grief.
On Thursday evening, two ISIS operatives, whose identities are still unknown, exploded themselves in a crowded marketplace in the Bourj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, killing 44 and injuring more than 200 others in the worst terrorist attack the city has seen in years.
Although the terrorist group behind the attacks in Paris and Beirut was the same, the Western media narrative has been vastly different. In Paris, ISIS attacked the city’s progressive youth, massacring dozens enjoying their night out at a concert, a soccer game and a restaurant. In Beirut, ISIS struck a “Hezbollah stronghold” in the “southern suburbs of Beirut,” a poor, majority Shia area often characterized as a bastion of terrorism in the region. The attack was portrayed as little more than strategic punishment for Hezbollah’s ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war and support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
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