Globally terrorism is on the rise but not in Western countries. In 2014 the Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths last year, a jump of 60% from 2012. There were four groups were responsible for most of them: Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; the Taliban in Afghanistan; and al-Qaida in various parts of the world. But do we really pay attention to the atrocities which happen in other countries and not on Western soil?
The answer to that is that when terrorist attacks happen close to home, the situation becomes more serious and realistic. In the 7/7 bombings in London, I can distinctly remember hearing the sirens of the Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade racing into an unknown and dangerous situation. For many people, it is much harder to relate to a country on the other side of the globe which has been victim of terrorist attacks.
After the terrorist attacks in France in November 2015, the world cried out with anguish and mourned those who were tragically killed. But what about those who are killed everyday from airstrikes in Syria? Where is the national mourning and outrage expressed when those innocent lives are lost and hospitals bombed? Why does this horror and injustice not provoke the same response by the mainstream media when terrorist attacks are carried out in different countries? Apparently, we simply do not care. What about the fifteen civilians who were burned alive by a caliphate in Fallujah, Iraq or the suicide bombing in Diffa, Niger, why are those lives not mourned or cared about?
The media often fails to report the extent and crisis which terrorism is in other countries; too much emphasis is placed on the effects of terrorism in western countries. The mainstream media places emphasis on individuals who instigated the attack, contributing to a rising anti-immigration rhetoric which perpetuates and exacerbates extremist views. For example, a disconcerting amount of emphasis was placed upon the driver of the truck who ploughed into the Berlin christmas market as being a ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’. Yes, it is the media’s responsibility to act as a fourth estate but it is also responsible for inciting hatred and fear.
The recent attacks in Berlin and Ankara have shocked and frightened a population, but we must remain resilient and strong in the face of terror. Both radical terrorist groups such as ISIS, and the populist right wing media are working together to exacerbate hatred and divide the people. Nigel Farage tweeted on the 20th December, “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.” Owen Jones has struck out at Farage’s comments, ‘What kind of contemptible individual mixes horror with vindication?’ as Farage has attempted to use Angela Merkel’s open border policy to divide and shift the blame onto Muslims and refugees who are fleeing persecution. Donald Trump has also used this tragic event to attempt to galvanise support for his Muslim ban in the United States, a disastrous, terrifying and authoritarian policy.
In the face of a world full of the horrors of terrorism, we must rise up and let love triumph. The media is quick to blame refugees and asylum seekers. Using innocent people who are fleeing persecution as a tool for persecution has been seen throughout most of 2016. If we continue to harbour hate, our views will become more extreme and we will all suffer; terrorism must be recognised as a global crisis, reported thoroughly and monitored. But also, we need to make sure that we protect our people from terrorism. More security measures need to be put in place as the UK is now on a severe level threat as seen through increased security measures around Buckingham Palace.
All human life is equal and we need to make sure that terrorism in third world countries is treated with the same levels of seriousness that it is for the western world. In the face of terrorism and polarisation, the world needs to work together as a collective to ensure that terrorists are brought to account and punished, but also that we tackle the core of the problem.