Sunday November 15, 2015

Why do we mourn for Paris but not Beirut?

Residents inspect a damaged area caused by two explosions in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon November 12, 2015. At least 27 people were killed in two suicide explosions in a busy area in Beirut's southern suburb, a stronghold of Lebanese Hezbollah, on Thursday, medical officials said. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTS6OR8

Residents inspect a damaged area caused by two explosions in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon November 12, 2015. At least 27 people were killed in two suicide explosions in a busy area in Beirut's southern suburb, a stronghold of Lebanese Hezbollah, on Thursday, medical officials said. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTS6OR8 (Hasan Shaaban/Reuters)

Listen 10:15

This week, the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 43 people in Beirut.
The following day, a suicide blast and a roadside bomb killed 26 in Baghdad.
ISIS took credit for those attacks too.

Then Paris happened. 

Joey Ayoub is a Lebanese graduate student and a regular contributor to the Global Voices website. He has family connections in Beirut and Paris. He argues that the same vicious logic is at work in all of this week's attacks and that we need to give the same recognition to all victims of terrorism. 

The full interview is available in the audio player above. The following portions have been edited for clarity and length.

What do you think about the way the world has reacted to [the attacks in Paris and Beirut]? 

The way I expressed in [my article] was just sadness and exasperation that the familiarity that most people felt when they heard about Paris was not echoed when it happened in Beirut. And in many ways, I do understand it. After all, Paris, for most Westerners at least, is a more familiar city than Beirut. But at the same time, I think it also speaks of the politics and the power structures at play here... There's a certain hierarchy of values, [that] certain people just matter more than others. It has to do with how dispensable some bodies are, so the Arab body being more dispensable than the white body, if we want to call it that. 

It's been almost two days since the attacks in Paris. As people read the news, as people start to contextualize what happened, what would you like them to do? Is there a way that you would hope that they would interpret both Paris and Beirut? 

These values people always like to remember in times of tragedy, when Charlie Hebdo happened, or the attacks on Paris, or the attacks on Beirut, when we talk about the values of liberalism, equality, democracy, fraternity, all of these things -- if these values themselves are threatened because of what a bunch of murderers did, then that means that we did not really believe in these values in the first place.... If you really believe in the values that you profess to believe in, then the first thing you should do, and I know it's not easy, is to say that refugees are welcome after this. Because they are the ones that are going to be punished the hardest even though they have nothing to do with it. 

Click the blue button above to listen to the full interview.