People are of two kinds, either your brothers in faith or equals in humanity. – Imam Ali
The Paris attacks in November 2015 gripped the world. The loss of the lives of 130 people led to reactions from all over the globe. President Obama arrived at the site of the terrorist attack to lay a rose. Crowds gathered outside the Notre Dame cathedral for a national service for the victims. Shanghai’s landmark building, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Burj al-Khalifa, the Planalto Palace, the London Eye and the Sydney Opera House were all lit up with France’s national colours. Candlelight vigils were held across the world. The reactions were similar to the 2016 Brussels bombings which led to the deaths of 35. The world was outraged, and with good reason to be. Every innocent life taken is a loss for mankind.
Last Tuesday, a bombing of an airport in Istanbul killed 45. Gunmen in Bangladesh killed 20 on Friday. In the early hours of Sunday a car exploded in Karada, Baghdad as young people and families were beginning another day of fasting in the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan. The devastating attack took the lives of 200 innocent people. And the reactions of the world? Nothing. These attacks that happened this week received little attention. They didn’t make front page news, or receive a breaking news banner. No buildings were lit up with the Turkish, Bangladeshi or Iraqi colours. No president came to visit the sites, no vigils were held in Western countries. Westerners still remain unaware of the events of this week. 200 people died in Baghdad. The worst ISIS attack is the one the world cares about least. Orlando was the one of the largest mass shootings in the USA, but isn’t Baghdad one of the largest attacks globally?
When attacks by the same terrorist group happen in two different areas of the world, the reactions are polar opposites. When ISIS attacks the West, the whole world mourns. We all become Charlie, Paris, Brussels and Orlando. We all change our profile pictures to their flags, we leave our houses to light candles and say prayers. Muslims are blamed, and Muslims apologise. Yet when these attacks happen in the East, the world stays silent. No front page news. No vigils. No mourning. We don’t become Istanbul, Dhaka or Baghdad. The East stands with the West when the West is attacked. However the West forgets the East when the East is attacked. Muslims aren’t blamed this time because the victims are Muslims themselves. The world doesn’t mourn Eastern attacks because it proves that ISIS isn’t an Islamic group. There is nothing Islamic about killing other Muslims. The biggest victims of ISIS are Muslims. Yet the world does not mourn for them.
Muslims condemn all the attacks, with emphasis for the ones in the West. We stand in solidarity with the non-Muslims but they overlook us when we are the victims. The West expect the East to mourn with them, but they don’t apply this to themselves. Christian teachings of “love thy neighbour” and “treat others as you wish to be treated” are apparently only applied when Christians are the victims. This double standard only creates hate, resentment and division. We must stand together, for we are equals in humanity. No life is worth more than another. Western lives are worth the same as Eastern lives. Western blood is not more expensive than Eastern.
We must mourn these attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq, just as we mourned France, Belgium and the US. It is time we all become Istanbul, Dhaka and Baghdad just as we became Paris, Brussels and Orlando. We mourned with you, so now you must mourn with us. We prayed for you, now pray for us.