This post is a highly revised rewrite of my earlier post on the subject of Paris and Beirut because *SIGH!* I wrote and posted the original in “the heat of the moment”. Then today when I re-read my post I knew I needed to get both my emotions in check and my facts straight and try again. I have too much of a tendency to write from the heart and not the head, which can result in a disorganized, illogical post. My own perfectionism says I can’t leave such posts floating around on the web. I hope the following makes sense.
I usually limit how much news I watch or read because if it’s not about politics or the 2016 presidential race there’s too much about the bad things that happen in this world instead of the good and that gets depressing sometimes. Nevertheless, it stunned me when I clued in Friday evening and learned that not one, but two brutal attacks had occurred in major cities in as many days. ISIS claimed responsibility for both acts of terrorism. And as I listened to, and then read, reports on the attacks my heart wept, even if my eyes didn’t.
As the news about the attacks in Paris spread and the world responded with a huge outpouring of sympathy and prayers, an outraged populace, both in Lebanon and around the world, wanted to know why the media focused on Paris and ignored what happened in Beirut the day before. Admittedly, I was among those who became incensed by this news. Shame on me for assuming those reports were stating the facts.
TRUTH: The media didn’t ignore what happened in Beirut, the listeners and readers did. A Google search lists hundreds of articles and video reports about the Beirut attack.
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TRUTH: Facebook activated its Safety Check feature after the Paris attacks so people could let their loved ones know they were safe, but they didn’t do it for Beirut. Until Paris, Facebook had only used that feature in natural disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds blew up with tributes to the victims in Paris — in the form of photos with an overlay of the French flag, a drawing of the Eiffel Tower with a circle drawn around it creating a peace sign [designed by graphic designer Jean Jullien] or simply the hashtag #PrayForParis. Twitter had lots of tweets about Beirut, but there was little on Facebook (except one article that was widely shared) or Instagram.
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TRUTH: President Obama signed an executive order to fly the flag at half-mast in honor of the victims in Paris until 11/19/2015; but he issued no such order for Beirut for even one day. Presidential candidates on the campaign trail over the weekend asked for a moment of silence for France before their speeches, but never said anything about Beirut. For two days you couldn’t watch or attend a sporting event without a moment of silence for France, but Beirut wasn’t mentioned.
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“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.” — Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor
TRUTH: The double suicide bombings in Beirut occurred just as people were leaving their sunset prayers. A third suicide bomber was captured before he detonated his vest. The death toll in Beirut would have been higher if not for the heroic actions of Adel Termos. Termos tackled the second suicide bomber causing early detonation of the vest and killing Termos and his daughter, as well as four others, but saving an unknown number of people. At the same time that Termos’ family mourned his death they spoke with pride of his heroics, calling him a martyr. The Beirut attack was the most deadly in Lebanon since the Tripoli bombings in August of 2013, which killed 47 people.
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“France has turned off its lights to mourn the victims of the attacks that rocked central Paris on Friday night. At least 120 people died. The rest of the world has turned lights on in honor and support, and as a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.” – Unknown
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Why was there a difference in the way the media reported and the world responded to these attacks? Was it because France is America’s ally in the war against terrorism? The fact that this was the second attack on France since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in January? Or is it because with all the suicide bombings and unrest in Israel, Iraq and Syria people are no longer surprised by attacks and suicide bombings in that region, maybe even assume it’s a daily occurrence? How have we gotten so inured to the violence in a region that we virtually ignore it unless it results in the maiming or death of our soldiers?
There are many more questions spinning in my head. Why are terrorist groups such as ISIS so hell-bent on imposing their will on the rest of the world, supposedly in the name of Allah/Muhammad? How can they justify the killing of innocents in a supposedly jihadist war that, despite some opinons, is not called for in the Holy Quran? Why must innocent Muslims around the world who peacefully observe and obey the laws of Islam pay a price for the actions of Muslim terrorists? Why can we not realize that not all Muslims are bad, just as not all cops are trigger happy nor all blacks thieves or all illegal immigrants rapists. How can future terrorist attacks be prevented?
“……if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind…….” The Holy Qur’an, Sura 5, Verse 32
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On Sunday, using information from the U.S. on the locations of ISIS strongholds, the French government made an airstrike that dropped 20 missiles on ISIS targets, with a second wave to follow on Tuesday. The U.S. military destroyed 116 ISIS fuel trucks at a fuel farm in Abu Kamal, Syria on the same day. Following a tradition of the U.S. military since World War Two, each U.S. missile had the message “From Paris, With Love” written on it.
Unfortunately, airstrikes are not the final solution to stopping terrorist attacks. It’s highly unlikely that a series of airstrikes now is going to make ISIS go away for good. In fact, ISIS says that earlier airstrikes on their strongholds are the reason for the recent attacks. Maybe the newest airstrikes will at least make them think twice before launching another attack. Maybe not; ISIS has stated that France will stay at the top of its target list and they have reportedly released a list of their next targets: London, Rome and Washington, DC — not necessarily in that order.