After the attacks in Paris, Brussels, and more recently, Istanbul, the world mourned.
We changed our profile pictures to the flags of France, Belgium, and Turkey, we tweeted respect to the victims and survivors with sympathetic hashtags, and we dedicated front pages to the victims’ names and life stories.
But car bombings and terrorist attacks in Baghdad conjure up no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, no hashtags, and no Western front pages of victims’ names and stories.
The unfortunate truth is that ISIS’s deadliest attack in weeks is the one the world seems to care about the least.
After Paris and Brussels was Istanbul. Last Tuesday night, three suspected ISIS militants launched a vicious attack on Turkey’s main airport, gunning down numerous passengers and staff, and exploding their suicide vests. At least 41 people were killed. The world panicked.
Next was Dhaka. ISIS-linked gunmen raided a crowded cafe in an upscale neighborhood in Bangladesh’s capital. At least 20 hostages, mostly Italian and Japanese nationals according to the Independent, died. American college students were also killed at the hands of the militants.
News anchors and security experts worried ISIS’ focus is shifting far from the Middle East, and that foreigners are now at risk all over the Muslim world. The world panicked again.
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) July 3, 2016
Then they attacked Baghdad. As hundreds of Iraqis gathered during the holy month of Ramadan on early Sunday morning, a car bomb exploded in the crowded shopping district of Karrada. At least 121 were killed – including many children. The world didn’t panic.
This attack hasn’t generated the same fear in the West as Istanbul or Dhaka did – and even those two attacks didn’t see the same panic as Paris or Belgium. And it’s unlikely that it will.
We’ve turned a blind eye to the violence in Baghdad for years now – arguably since the 2003 U.S-led invasion of Iraq. The country has since been the site of numerous rounds of al-Qaeda attacks, and now the deadly wrath of ISIS, yet media coverage and sympathetic trending hashtags are minimal.
Attacks like Baghdad’s most recent only attract muted worldwide sympathy, and it’s not going unnoticed.
No one gives af about us, about Turkey, about Bangladesh. No twibbons, no tears, no lights of solidarity.
— تامارا (@itstamaram) July 4, 2016
My heart is with Baghdad & Bangladesh. Why aren't more of us talking about these senseless attacks? Remember, pain & love is universal ?
— Louisa C-Burnham (@louisacburnham) July 4, 2016
Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq all attacked in a week but we won't hear about them as much as Paris bc Muslim victims don't fit the narrative
— farwz (@farwzaz) July 3, 2016
The BBC‘s timeline of recent ISIS-linked attacks in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq show just how many massacres the Western world has become numb to:
9 June 2016: At least 30 people killed in and around Baghdad in two suicide attacks claimed by IS
17 May 2016: Four bomb blasts kill 69 people in Baghdad; three of the targets were Shia areas
11 May 2016: Car bombs in Baghdad kill 93 people, including 64 in market in Shia district of Sadr City
1 May 2016: Two car bombs kill at least 33 people in southern city of Samawa
26 March 2016: Suicide attack targets football match in central city of Iskandariya, killing at least 32
6 March 2016: Fuel tanker blown up at checkpoint near central city of Hilla, killing 47
28 February 2016: Twin suicide bomb attacks hit market in Sadr City, killing 70
And that’s just this year. These attacks are merely the latest in an unending stream of calamity to engulf Iraq and its capital.
One resident whose apartment windows were blown out in the July 3 car bomb explosion – the deadliest in Baghdad yet – told The Washington Post: “The street was full of life last night, and now the smell of death is all over the place.”
Iraq is one of the top five countries that suffer the most terrorist attacks, and although the latest is the deadliest one we’ve seen yet, mainstream news outlets seem to be reporting on it, but there’s not much noise on social media.
#JeSuisBaghdad not trending? Nope thought not. Clearly some lives matter more than others.
— Sakina (@_SakinaHussain) July 4, 2016
Our thoughts are with all those affected by this sickening attack.