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Paris attacks: Our victims, and their victims

The belief is, those who are slain oversees are not our victims, and those who are slain here are not their victims

Diana Moukalled

Published: Updated:

A Twitter user recently sent me a message criticizing my grief over the victims of the recent Paris attacks. He wrote: "These are infidels who we do not pray for to rest in peace regardless of whether it's permissible to kill them or not."

Of course, I did not feel any desire to engage in a discussion with him or to respond to such logic. Unfortunately, this logic has been manifested in many reactions around us and has reflected confusion regarding shifts in emotions and sympathy based on countries, religion, sect and race.

The situation certainly seems disappointing, especially when we feel surrounded by all this pain and bloodshed in the region to the extent where we've become deprived of basic primitive feelings, such as rejecting the murder of civilians even at a time when many civilians from our own countries often become murder victims.

The belief is, those who are slain overseas are not our victims, and those who are slain here are not their victims

Diana Moukalled

Barely anyone was spared from being criticized for voicing solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attacks committed by ISIS. Most people took to social media and posted comments, images and flags of the countries targeted by ISIS in order to condemn all their attacks, particularly the Paris attacks. Facebook introduced a tool to add the French flag filter to profile photos, and many users used that tool to voice solidarity with the victims. However many were angered and confused by this move. Some created a similar tool to include the Lebanese flag filter and criticized how France received more global solidarity than Beirut, which had witnessed ISIS suicide bombings a day before the Paris attacks.

Then, the series of bids for solidarity escalated.

The Paris attacks were met with campaigns of solidarity and grief in western countries. However in our Arab world, they mainly stood out as points of controversy and dispute - which seem to be the only thing we are good at. Sympathy among us seemed to be conditional and many well-known media outlets were at some point directly involved in reinforcing these reservations, by adopting a malicious approach towards the event, its victims and perpetrators. Since absurdity has no limits, many fell into the trap of circulating the news of the murder of 147 students in Kenya and commented on the news with a demand that those sympathizing with the Paris attacks not to ignore Africa. Of course, it was clear that those who circulated this news on Kenya did not double check their information as the news had happened seven months ago. Unfortunately, only a few people bother to double check information amid this social media storm.

Perhaps those who are concerned the most here are the Syrians, who cannot feel that any pain matches theirs, and the Lebanese people who've become used to explosions. The Iraqis have also gotten used to bombings for over a decade now. Meanwhile the Yemenis struggle to end the negligence towards their victims. Of course we're not placing all these groups in one category according to identity or nationality. However there's certainly a frantic state of dispute regarding reactions to their crises. This implies we have not learned much from the abundant death tolls which have exhausted us as countries, individuals and societies.

The belief is, those who are slain overseas are not our victims, and those who are slain here are not their victims. We are incapable of agreeing that a victim is a victim regardless of his/her nationality. Within our bias towards those victims is our declaration that their murderer is one and that we, too, are his victims.


This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 23, 2015.

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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.