Is terrorism in the West the only recognised form of terrorism by the media?
France is receiving immense support from countries and individuals from around the world, following terrorist attacks in several parts of Paris, on Friday, November 13, which altogether claimed the lives of about 130 people, and left hundreds more wounded. Sympathetic statements have been issued by world leaders and icons via media outlets, and news channels, such as CNN, encourages people to impact their world by showing support to the victims in as many ways as they can.
Equally, social media forums, such as Facebook, contributed to the show of support by providing innovative ways to show their concern and support on their sites, and famous landmarks were lit up in France’s colours, in Australia, USA, UK, and Germany, with various moving pictures of grieving groups and individuals uploaded on the internet to complement them.
Since Friday, Paris has been under constant news surveillance and coverage, with every single activity reported live. The gravity of the attacks in Paris, which are characterised as the worst to hit the country since World War II, have resulted displays of outrage and solidarity, even leading world leaders to label the incidence as an attack on all of humanity.
The statement above, as well as other similar ones, added to the urgency and sympathy that France’s case is being treated with at this time, however, is sparking a series of controversial debates revolving around what appears to be preferential support and international media coverage for the country, in the wake of the tragedy that it has suffered.
Lebanon’s November 12 bombings, and the violent situations in other Middle Eastern and African nations presently, received centre stage in the arguments, which question if France is worthy of such privileged treatment strictly based on its geographical location in the West, as opposed to other countries that are equally and more frequently targets of terrorist attacks but receive no such attention, also based off their location and, perhaps, their demography.
Concerned individuals have accused the media in all its capacities of only catering to the western world, when it comes to global sensitisation of acts of terrorism, while pointing out the double standards employed in approaching the subject. According to sources, the media shows selective grief and outrage, all of which are directed at the ‘white world’.
Although media sources undoubtedly report a number of the terrorist attacks that occur in ‘non-western’ regions of the world, the methods they choose in doing so happen to deliberately retain the undertone of the reports just being another news story, as in the case of Beirut’s very recent incidence, and usually do not carry with them the actual weight and significance of what they are reporting, and how it affects the places they occurred and their inhabitants.
This year alone, deadly terrorist attacks claiming thousands of lives have happened outside the West, in Nigeria, Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Cameroon, Palestine, and numerous other countries, but all are yet to receive a 24-hour media coverage or updates, nor do they happen to be enough to incite the level of global – or Western – solidarity and sympathy that is being shown to France today. Granted, the attacks in Paris should evoke emotions of sympathy and outrage from everyone with a heart, but so also should those that took place, and still regularly occur, in other conflict-ridden parts of the world.
The media plays a strong role by determining what is newsworthy and what is not, and by default shapes the opinions of its audience based on its content. Terrorism is a core focus of media content presently, given the global rise of the menace, which the media has also been blamed for partly fuelling. In reality, the incident in France pales in comparison to cases in Africa and the Middle East, which tend to happen too frequently, but international media seemingly promotes the more significant losses. Till date, the only times that word leaders have been enraged to the point of declaring “war” on terrorism famously include the 9/11 attack on the United States, and now, the France attacks.
Perhaps the West is sending a strong message through the media with events such as this, that terrorism is unacceptable only when it concerns that region of the world, but regular tragic news when it happens in regions that are ‘responsible’ for their popularity in the first place, and the rest of the world is either choosing to ignore this message, or is simply blind to it.
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