Soon after the terrorist attacks in Belgium on 22nd March, a cartoon was shared as a sign of sympathy and solidarity. (The above image minus Turkey and Saudi Arabia) However, soon after, someone added Turkey to this image. Then, soon after that, someone added Saudi Arabia to it. Originally, this image was a show of solidarity between the French and their neighbours Belgium. That’s understandable as they share a close open border with similar cultures, a deep history and the French language. However, some saw this as the two countries proclaiming their attacks as the most important. Whether they thought this or not, it’s also understandable that the Turks and then Saudis felt slightly aggrieved.
After the attack in Paris on 13th November 2015, Facebook introduced a tool that allowed users to add the French flag to their profile picture. (Much like the rainbow flag for the introduction of equal marriage in the US) This tool was then added on 22nd March for the Belgian attacks. The problem is, the tool wasn't added for the Turkish attacks, the any of the Saudi attacks since 2013, the attack in Beirut that happened on the same day as the Paris atrocity or any other terrorist attack in the Arabia. That includes the ingoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Libya. It’s quite right then that the Turks and Saudis were aggrieved by the west’s ignorance regarding terrorist attacks.
The problem is, the media coverage of terrorist attacks in the middle-east and the rest of the Arab world is minute compared to the enormous reporting, analysis and commenting for the French and Belgian attacks. The coverage for the middle-east all seems to get mixed together and washed over by the mainstream media as if it’s not as important. Therefore, Facebook’s introduction or lack of inclusion of the flags may not be entirely their fault. If the media fails to cover these attacks in the same way, they won’t be thought about in the same light by the public.
The issue here is that we as westerners show solidarity towards western countries and take little or no interest in similar attacks within the Arab world. This must be down to the fact that when cities on our doorsteps are attacked, the threat feels very real. Then, when countries such as the Lebanon are attacked, it doesn't matter because they're so far away and they’re expected due to the proximity of Islamic State. This of course is bollocks and we should show solidarity to all and not just our neighbours. Incidentally, there were far more people whom change their profile picture to a French flag than a Belgian flag after their respected dates. Why the solidarity towards the French but not the Belgians? Well, maybe Paris seems closer than Belgium. Perhaps Paris seems far more familiar due its popularity as a holiday destination and portrayal in movies.
It is regrettable that we don’t feel the same for an attack in Baghdad than we do for one in western Europe. Moreover, it’s regrettable that we even have to discuss terrorist attacks to begin with. Is it any surprise that the Arab nations aren't doing more to combat the spread of Islamic terrorism when the west doesn't stand united with them against their struggle? What we must do is stand strong against all attacks no matter where in the world because in essence civilians are being killed of all races, religions and creeds by a death cult worse than anything we’ve seen before. It’s easy to try and ignore it and it’s easier to send in the troops. But, we must learn from our mistakes, stand strong against the threat and unite as one.