As a journalism student, I often find that you can garner more information from reading the comments than the actual story shared on Facebook or Twitter by a news source.
However, the comments are often sickening, vile and bring out the worst of humanity. President Barack Obama called the terror attacks in Paris this weekend “an act on all of humanity”. Whilst the aftermath has left sadness and despair all over the world, the world has come together, lighting up their icons and holding vigils in the name of Paris.
A lot of people all over the world are angered by the fact that Baghdad and Beirut were not (or in some bases, barely) mentioned by the western media, despite the fact that attrocities in the Middle East have been occurring regularly.
What is the justification for this? It’s just my opinion, however I think that the Paris attacks hit closer to home for a lot of people than attrocities happening in the Middle East. That world is often considered far away from our western, sheltered bubble of privelege. Events like what occurred in Paris cause us to reevaluate the way that we live our lives, with many thinking that if it happened there, what’s to say it won’t happen here? It has shaken up the world, and the mainstream media are merely telling the tale that they think people want to see, not the one that we need to.
Paris received 24 hour coverage across many TV channels, it filled newspapers and was the topic across the radio. But we need to stop and consider that just because Baghdad and Beirut feel so far away, we are all people whose suffering is caused by religious extremists fighting for what they believe is a greater good.
Going back to the beginning, I mentioned that I like to read the comments – sometimes more than the article itself. However the comments over the last day and a half of news coverage in Australia have saddened me. I am hoping that it is just the overzealous bigots of Australia who feel the need to comment disgusting things about the Muslim faith on comment boards across the internet.
I have read comments ranging from “shoot them back” to “close our borders before it’s too late” (referring to Australia). The hate that is eminated through these comments astounds me, because a lot of these hatefuly comments don’t consider what many of us think to be the obvious – there are two types of people in any religion.
There are the types of people who are your best friends, your acquaintances, the people you smile at on the street or your neighbours. Then, there are the extremists who give said religion a bad name. Unfortunately for the former category, ISIS and Islam have become synonymous with terrorism and hate. No matter how many Muslims reply to the comments preaching hate and xenophobia, condemning the terrorist attacks in New York, London, Baghdad, Beirut and Paris… it doesn’t help or change any minds. They are branded as one, tarred with the same brush. I guess that’s the internet for you.
However, we have to remember that there are extremists from everywhere – even atheists. At the moment, terrorist organisations in the world are trying to turn us against each other, to make an “us” and a “them”. But we can’t let them. I am hoping beyond belief that the comments calling on Australia to close our borders to the 12000 Syrian refugees are the minority view. We live in an amazing, free country and to reject people who are fleeing from the same organisations that we condemn would make us closed-minded, terrible human beings. We are all one, and the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad were an attack against all of humanity. We need to stand together, as one, and say that enough is enough.
Many have said that lighting up our landmarks is doing nothing, however it is a show of solidarity – that Paris, and indeed Beirut and Baghdad, are not alone. That we stand beside them, not matter what.
I can’t claim to have a solution, and already too much blood has been shed. I know that these cities will recover, as London and New York did after their attacks. However I also know that the holes left in the hearts of the family and friends affected by all of these events will take forever and a day, if not more to heal. I send my deepest condolences from Australia.
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