I too haven’t changed my Facebook profile picture to the watermarked French flag.
The reasons I haven’t changed my picture to the red, white and blue in support of Paris and the French after the atrocities, sadness and horror over the last few days is because I refuse to be a part of a minute symbol going viral over social media. Of course I feel angry, scared, horrified, sad following the events of the Paris attack, but I refuse to jump on the band wagon here. Many won’t know Beirut (Yemen) and Baghdad (Iraq) also suffered Isis attacks in the same 24 hours. Where are those two flags on Facebook?
There’s been 289 terror attacks so far in 2015. Given 16th November is the 320th day in the year, that’s pretty astounding.Sure, some of them happen on the same day, but that’s still not far off one a day in the world.
Where are the Facebook flags for the other countries hit by similar horrors?
My point is, as you can hopefully gather, that similar events of terror happen around the world almost every day, yet why do we give special attention to the Paris attack? Yes, France is our next door neighbour. Yes, the attacks are creeping into western nations, not just restricted to ‘dangerous lands’, but this has been happening for decades now, I think it’s fair to say. My awareness of terrorism started on September 11th 2001, news coming in from New York city and Washington.
But why the media storm and public support for this one? Perhaps it’s because of the British links. We’re more than just neighbours, with 0.8% of the Parisen population being British (17,500 people). There’s been no census taken in Lebanon (capital being Beirut) since 1932, so this kind of data is just not available, but my assumption would be there’s far fewer British people living there. Same goes for Baghdad – I can only find stats for British Iraqis living here, or troops in Baghdad, but no population numbers of British people living there.
Maybe that’s the secret: France features strongly on our radar for jobs, second homes, holidays, politics.... From an early age we’re aware of France. History education when I was at school focused strongly on the Allies in the two world wars and the royal family tree, with French ancestry. My school also taught French to all students from the age of 11-16. And how many British people haven’t visited France? Myself, I’ve been to Nantes (French exchange at school), skirted in and around Calais and the surrounding villages (booze cruise), I’ve spent at least three family holidays in and around Frejus, I’ve driven through it on a road trip to Rome, and spent a weekend in Paris with a friend. There’s probably more occasions, but memory fails.
Should the fact France is our close neighbour be the reason why we bowed our heads this morning, and leave other nations, like Iraq and Yemen, ignored? The close relationship link does make sense why we may be more supportive to the French, but then why would USA-owned and Latin America dominated Facebook choose France to support so openly over all the nations under the force of terror? No one created a widget for the Yemen flag this week.
The two minutes silence today held across Europe was, of course, respectful and supportive. After all, why shouldn’t we show our respect for those who died and support for those who live on? We did the same for the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris in January.
Perhaps it’s the sheer numbers of casualties involved that we feel so connected and shocked? It’s obvious the attacks with bigger impacts will make more of a global media impact.
Here are the terror attacked in 2015 (so far) which, as in Paris, killed over 100 people each time:
137 people were killed in Yemen’s Sana’a mosque on 7th March
25th June: 148 people died in Syria in a massacre involving car bombs on the Turkish border
In July, 145 people died in a shooting in a Nigerian market place
It’s estimated that 100-180 people were killed in July’s car bombs in Iraq
In Turkey itself, 102 people were killed in Ankara in October, 508 injured, when suicide bombers decided to destroy a peace rally.
There’s similar numbers of dead involved in all cases, and it makes it no less horrifying when the attacks happen somewhere most Europeans probably won’t ever set foot in (with the exception of Egypt), and most know nothing about the atrocities.
Perhaps terror is accepted as inevitable in these countries? How awful. Just because France is deemed safer than many parts of Asia or Africa or compared to the Arab nations… but those innocents affected by the violence won’t care about that. That’s their town, their country, their family. The one glimmer of hope is that the Egyptian plane bombed last month, killing 224 people, was in the news for weeks, and there were no British people on board for national morbid interest. However, although Egypt is not seen as a particularly ‘safe, western area’, we as a nation have been happy to holiday there. The incident being a bombed flight was also bound to produce more media attention than a terrestrial attack. So that’s why. Horrendous. Still no Egyptian flags on Facebook.
I wonder if Syrian, Yemen, Turkish, Nigerian, Iraqi nationals posted their flag on Facebook in solidarity? I don’t have any Facebook friends from these countries, but it sure didn’t make the viral waves the French flag did. (PS. Wonder what Syrians are posting and searching for on Facebook?)
It’s all politics. That’s what sucks. Often devoid of human traits, politics is a powerful thing. Egalite, fraternite et liberte, indeed. However, I am no politician. I am a member of no political organisation, but I try to keep up with world events. I don’t watch the news, preferring to get snippets when I choose instead of being bombarded constantly with negative stories.
So, what was ‘L’s’ response to her offended friend on Facebook? “If you’re offended, that’s your problem”, she argued, and pointed out that L’s profile picture is too small to host all the flags of terrorist tormented nations and peoples. Well said. I, like ‘L’, would rather reflect in private, and pray on a wider scale. Pray for the world.
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Born to be a Tourist
P.S. What's worse that posting the flag as a watermark on your face - and I won't go on about this for long, I promise - is when people have posted pictures of them on holiday in Paris, perhaps under the Eiffel Tower. So what, you've been? Show off.