East or West, Terror on one should be on all

My heart goes to France, and then returns back to its former state of despair. 14th July 2016- a somber day for France and the world. The Bastille Day fireworks celebrations in the City of Nice was cut short when the perpetrator Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who was gunned down by police officers rammed a truck into the crowd killing 84 people and injuring 202. Being the third major terrorist attack in 19 months to strike France, all the world major news channels bombarded the entire globe with the news, regurgitating the attack. This close monitoring of the attack hinted that we should care- and I do care because human lives were lost. But should I care more because it is France, and not Fiji or Burkina Faso?


Besides being considered a first world country, France is among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, making it a ‘great power’.  The so called ‘Big 5’ were the victorious powers in World War II, giving them the power to prevent the adoption of any substantive draft council resolution regardless of the level of international support of the draft. This means they take the lead in maintaining international peace and security and can impose sanctions and authorize use of force. So when tragedy strikes, I should drop everything and empathize with the great powers. This I agree, but why is it that when tragedy hits in the ‘less developed countries’,  the world sympathises with us, then instantly offer quarantine measures  and red tape the ‘hot beds’ of terror?

If France was Kenya, the British, US and other Governments particularly from the West would advise, recommend and warn its beloved citizens to avoid the war-torn, insecure and reckless country. However, this drill does not seem applicable to countries in the West. Considering major attacks have claimed the lives of many, no travel sanctions were imposed on France.  Does that mean it is safer there? Also, arms embargo that prohibits export and imports of arms were not imposed on the country, never mind it is the top 5 exporter of arms and lies in the top 10 category of the world’s largest arms manufacturers and other military service companies who profit the most from the war economy. The most that was done was cancel events solely in the City of Nice including a five day jazz festival and a concert by musician Rihanna. If France was Kenya, it wouldn’t have been a case of a city missing a concert but an entire country suffering economic loses, acquiring a range of sanctions and losing its reputation.

The media calls for action when attacks happen in the ‘more developed’ nations, but the less developed countries are always blamed for insecurity and lectured on carelessness. Ironically, when these ‘little’ countries are safe, i.e. no terror attacks, the world checks up on us to see if everything is fine, because they have come to learn that something should be wrong if there is no hot (attacks, brutality and deaths) in the beds (little countries).

Just at a day before the Mandera attack on July 1, which left six dead, the US issued a travel warning to its citizens to avoid travelling to border areas of Kenya stating the ‘high risk of crime throughout the country.’ The document recounted previous terror reigns in the country and emphasized armed carjacking, grenade attacks and even home invasions, which I found unnecessary. If they are so much concerned about the safety of people, then they should do the same when attacks happen to their neighbours. Ironically, they turn a blind eye to their notoriety for mass shootings and citizens being shot in broad daylight.

Following last year’s attack at the Garissa University, my heart sank when the Paris attacks followed and the media blew up with immense support for France, compared to Kenya. I mean, it was not the hotbed of terror. No. It was seen as terror happening on a hotbed. This was as if to say that war shouldn’t happen in countries like France. I have learnt that there are levels of terror which are measured not in the number of casualties, but where it occurred. If the world is serious about fighting terror, the same measures should apply to all. Terror on one is terror on all, regardless of the geographical position.

Image source: www.einstein.yu.edu/images/world/spotlight/global-divide-spot.jpg

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