Had a lesson with my students today on terrorism. Inevitably, the topic of ISIS came up, and we talked about the attacks on Lahore, Pakistan. A student then shared an article that he had just read, about the difference in responses to the attacks on Brussels, and that on Lahore. The article apparently highlighted the fact that the world reacted to Brussels with tweets and changes of profile pictures, and that celebrities and politicians took to social media to condemn the attacks. In contrast, apparently the Lahore attacks didn’t garner as much of an online support, with only a few world leaders commenting on the attacks.
Another student then asked this question with utter disbelief.
“Why does it matter who prays for whom on social media? What difference does it make to the lives lost?”
I have always thought it does matter. It is a sign that the world is standing united with the victims and their friends and family. It is a sign that every life is precious and must be respected. It is a sign that every attack is equally vicious and destructive and must be condemned. It is a sign that everyone knows and understands that these monsters have no race and no religion and are a disgrace to the entire human race.
However, it is inevitable that people choose to respond to different attacks differently, especially those who are not directly affected. I might be appalled by an attack on a country I have never visited and have no connection to. However, I would be completely devastated if the same happened to a country where I have friends and family. The thought of having come so close to losing a loved one might trigger a much stronger reaction. This, in my humble opinion is human nature. Why do we insist on a fair reaction? How fair can a world made out of biased and emotional individuals be?
By highlighting these disparities, by making an issue out of social media posts, by putting people on the defensive, we are doing exactly what the terrorists want. They want divisiveness. They want a world that is chaotic and in turmoil. They want a world with clear barriers. A world that they can infiltrate with ease and conquer.
Why do we give in to them?
The article criticized Obama for being very hush hush on the topic of Lahore, as compared to when Belgium was struck. However, during the Brussels attacks, he was in Cuba, refused to cut his trip short, and even managed to play a game of baseball. When he was asked why, this is how he responded.
“It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage,’ said the president. ‘You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”
This made perfect sense to me, and further highlighted the stupidity of people who keep looking for conflicts where none exist.
By 2020, Islam will be the world’s largest religion. Every time we make terrorism out to be an issue of Islam vs the rest of the world, we are instigating more tension and conflict. Every time we imply that the rest of the world is somehow against Islamic countries, and that we don’t value them as much as we do other countries, we allow for radicalization to take place.
For those who believe that ISIS is Islamic, what about the attacks on the football pitch in Baghdad?
Not convincing enough? What about the fact that one of the biggest terrorists in the world is a guy whiter than white bread?
ISIS is doing a fantastic job sowing discord in the world. Let us not help them achieve their objectives faster. It is always only about us versus the monsters.