Article by Mojolaoluwa Alabi (UWCAC 2015-2017)
Friday the 13th is known worldwide as a day of ill-fated incidences. Unfortunately for the people of Paris, this was more than just a superstition.
7 attacks. 20 minutes. 129 dead. Thousands terrified. Families torn apart. Wives widowed and children orphaned. The media immediately sprung to the scene and countries such as the US arose on behalf of France, standing in solidarity with the fallen. Even Facebook showed support for this cause, enabling people to make use of the French flag as a filter to show their support for the nation. Looking at social media platforms 24 hours later, I expected my timeline to be filled with outpouring of love, sympathy and support for people who had suffered from this horrific attack. To my surprise I was bombarded by a series of angry Tweets and Facebook posts expressing rage that other countries experiencing crises did not “get a filter” as well.
I found it to hard believe that despite the calamity that had occurred, majority of people were more concerned about a minuscule filter. However as I carried out more research and dug deeper, I uncovered a much bigger issue, the real source of their anger: the bias of the media towards the West. Unbeknownst to me, the day before, there was a disastrous Earthquake in Japan and on that fateful day, Paris was not alone in suffering as there was an ISIS attack in Beirut, Lebanon. It also struck me that I had to dig quite deeply to come across information on these attacks, as every time I googled “Terrorist attacks in Lebanon,” websites containing details about the Paris attacks spun up, with the attacks in Beirut added as “supplementary” information. The sources I did manage to find concerning crises in other countries like Nigeria and Iraq were lacking in depth, compared to the detailed accounts given by the media concerning the attacks in France that day.
The bitter truth is that there is undoubtedly more media coverage in Western countries that undergo attacks than there is for the “Third World” countries such as Lebanon, Nigeria and Iraq which are considered to be of less importance or carrying less “weight” as it were. This is unfortunate and there is a need for all of us, the media especially to progress from that colonial mentality and give equal coverage and bring equal attention to disasters or attacks that occur all over the world. The fact that one country is more economically or politically significant than another does not mean that the lives of their citizens are worth more or deserve more attention. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Notwithstanding, should the focus of the people be on the lack of media attention in non-Western nations or bringing comfort and aid to all the helpless victims, be it in Beirut or Japan, and providing solutions to the escalating terrorist attacks, which have killed more than four times as many people in this decade than the last? In our outcries for equality, let us not forget the true victims of these tragedies.
Finally, to those who have lost their lives in all these calamities, be it natural or man-made, I quote Rupi Kaur:
“I am sorry this world
could not keep you safe,
may your journey home
be a soft and peaceful one.”