A Response to #PrayforBrussels
*This is an opinion-ed piece by Teddy Oh*
To most, the social media response to the March 22nd Brussels bombings was a heartwarming example of humans coming together in solidarity against acts of terrorism. Celebrities tweeted and Instagrammed their condolences, and thousands others shared their own thoughts using the hashtag, #prayforbrussels. Similar to the #jesuischarlie and #prayforparis hashtags which trended on Twitter after previous attacks in France, #prayforbrussels exploded across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as the rest of the world tried to show Brussels we stood with them.
What’s the problem?
Some people weren’t happy with #prayforbrussels- not because they disagreed with the message, but because of the larger role that the hashtag played in global reactions to acts of terrorism or mass killings.
On March 13th, a car bombing in Ankara, Turkey left 34 dead and 125 injured. Although there were the expected responses from shocked and grieving citizens on social media, there was nowhere near the outpouring of (mostly Western) support that the Brussels attack received.
Exactly. Ankara has suffered multiple other attacks this year alone, including a January suicide bombing and a February car bombing, and they also didn’t generate any hashtags that came close to the popularity of #prayforbrussels, #prayforparis, or #jesuischarlie. When it comes to other countries in the Middle East, ISIS killings and suicide bombings have saturated the news so much that many Westerners don’t blink an eye when CNN reports on yet another mass killing. At least, that’s how some angry and frustrated people view the situation.
Where’s our hashtag?
On Facebook, posts have been circulating asking: where is #prayforankara? Here’s one example of a popular post quoted in an article from Huffington Post:
“It is very easy to look at terror attacks that happen in London, in New York, in Paris and feel pain and sadness for those victims, so why is it not the same for Ankara?” Taylor wrote. “Is it because you just don’t [realize] that Ankara is no different from any of these cities? Is it because you think that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, like Syria, like Iraq, like countries that are in a state of civil war, so therefore it must be the same and because you don’t care about those ones, then why should you care about Turkey?”
An Odyssey Online article called “Where is everyone’s #prayforankara?” runs a secondary headline reading: “The outpouring of Western solidarity for Europe as it battles terrorism has left little in supply for non-Westerners it would seem.”
What do you think?
Sources and Further Reading:
(RT) Reuters article: https://www.rt.com/news/335463-central-ankara-blast-sunday/
(CNN) CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/world/ankara-blast/
(HP) Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pray-for-ankara_us_56e722c5e4b065e2e3d6f8b2
(OO) Odyssey Online article: http://theodysseyonline.com/college-william-mary/where-is-everyones-prayforankara/377779