Journal Roundtable: Paris Attacks

We are what we read: the Beirut response

By Anastasiya Boika

The disparity between discussion on the Beirut and Paris attacks in the media tells the world that Arab lives matter less.

On Nov. 13, the world watched in horror as information on the attacks in Paris poured in from numerous media outlets. Within hours, Facebook activated its ‘Safety Check’ feature, allowing those in Paris to let loved ones know they were safe, and provided people with the option to superimpose the French flag on their profile pictures in support, which many did. 

However, while Paris was receiving outpourings of solidarity, the world seemed to have forgotten a similar spate of suicide bombings had taken place in Beirut less than a day prior, claiming 43 lives and leaving hundreds injured. 

As hashtags like #prayforparis and images of the Eiffel Tower peace sign took over Facebook and Twitter, support for Beirut was glaringly missing. 

Beirut’s numerous victims, one of whom, Adel Tormos, sacrificed his life tackling a suicide bomber to save hundreds of others, seemed to warrant few mentions. 

It was only days later that the discussion on social media began to question why Beirut was being ignored, with the blame squarely placed on a lack of coverage.

However, the discrepancy in support for the victims of Beirut also falls on the readership. 

The last time a bombing in Beirut resulted in so many casualties was from a car explosion in 1985. While numerous articles appeared on the Beirut attacks, people wrongfully assumed violence of such magnitude is ever-present in Lebanon, which caused stories on France to immediately get pushed to the forefront. 

By focusing solely on Paris, and coming back to Beirut only once the dust had settled, readers are continuing to promote an imbalance by showing the world that we attribute more value to Western lives than those in the Middle East. 

Until we make a concerted effort to encourage news outlets and social media users to bridge the gap that’s continuing to widen between the Western world and the Middle East, I fear that the situation will only grow worse. 

Anastasiya is one of The Journal’s Copy Editors. She’s doing her PhD in environmental history. 

 

Anti-islam only leads to more violence

By Ramna Safeer

In light of the recent horrific terrorist attacks on French soil, global sympathy for Paris hasn’t been the only response. 

Some have chosen to violently fight extremism with hatred against Muslims — isolating hundreds at a time when grieving should be a collective effort.

After the tragic Paris attacks that shook the world last Friday, I received a Facebook message by a girl I hadn’t spoken to in years. 

“You’re Muslim,” it read. “Explain to me what Islam means. I don’t get why people would kill innocent people in the name of Islam.” 

Suddenly, it felt like any ground the Muslim community gained with Canada’s Liberal victory, based on promises to backtrack on anti-Islamic rhetoric, had been lost. 

On Friday, my family was glued to the television screen, hoping the number of civilian deaths would stop rising. Like the rest of the world, my Muslim family prayed for Paris. 

But not long after — less than 48 hours later, in fact — a different kind of news started trickling in and the fear started to settle.

A video on CityNews showed a young, bearded Muslim teen responding to a yard sign in his neighborhood that urged all Muslims to apologize for the Paris attacks. 

A man attempted to push a Muslim woman onto the train tracks of the London Underground. 

The only mosque in Peterborough — which also happens to be the riding of newly elected MP and sole Muslim cabinet member Maryam Monsef — was set on fire Saturday night.

A Muslim woman in Toronto was picking her son from school when she was approached by two men who called her a “terrorist” and told her to “go back to her country”. The men proceeded to tear off her hijab, rob her and punch her.

The list goes on. Somewhere in the larger framework of our society, Muslims are being blamed for the actions of a few, and many times are consequently insulted, if not violently attacked. 

But people seem to forget that the largest percentage of ISIS victims thus far has been in Muslim countries.

The Paris attacks deserve the attention they received. They were brutal attacks by people who don’t understand religion or morality, but are perpetrators of senseless violence. The lives lost in 

Paris deserve to be mourned and remembered, worldwide.

What scares me is what didn’t garner the world’s sympathy — the increasing numbers of attacks on Muslims across the world and here at home.

In the same breath of mourning the Paris attacks, many politicians and members of society have, instead of combatting hate, become hateful themselves. And as the rising tide of assaults against Muslims has shown, this can only lead to more violence. 

Ramna is The Journal’s Arts Editor. She’s a second-year English major.

 

It’s Canadian to accept refugees

By Kendra Pierroz

In light of the attacks in Paris, the only correct and responsible decision for Canada as a peacekeeping nation is to continue its plan to provide refuge for 25,000 Syrians from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. 

Among others, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to delay his Syrian refugee plan, saying the government’s strict adherence  to deadlines and quotas “may affect the safety of our citizens and the security of our country.”

Meanwhile, many U.S. governors have announced that their state will not be accepting any Syrian refugees. 

There’s no reason to fearmilitants hiding within the ranks of refugees. It’s actually easier to access Canada as a short-term international visitor or business person than a heavily-assessed and interviewed refugee. 

Any extremists wanting to cause destruction on Canadian soil are probably already here.

Those worried about the potential risk of radicals hiding within the refugees should be comforted by the security measures of the Canadian Council for Refugees. 

The identities, health, religious affiliations and intentions of refugees coming to Canada are known by officials, which helps minimize the possibility of letting in radicals. 

It may be difficult to accept refugees into Canada, and many would argue that it will pose a strain on our resources. But Canada has a necessary obligation to provide foreign aid to those who need it. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it best: “Our focus must be on stopping the people responsible for the terror, and continuing to fight hate by embracing Canadian values.”  

Mistrust and acts of hatred are not Canadian behaviour. 

To me, Canadians don’t act out in hate, but welcome those taking refuge and help support newcomers once safe on our soil. We set an international example for others to follow. 

Fearing the unknown is natural, but even cautiously opening our doors to fellow humans in need is imperative in times of crisis if we’re to continue to uphold our Canadian values. 

Kendra is one of The Journal’s Photo Editors. She’s a fourth-year ArtSci student.

 

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