After Brussels, attacks in Baghdad and Lahore

Easter weekend brought more awful news of attacks carried out by jihadists against soft targets. A teenage suicide bomber representing ISIS killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens more at a local soccer match near Baghdad. The next day, a blast conducted by a Taliban affiliate killed around 71 people and wounded 300 at a public park in Lahore.There’s been a noticeable difference between the western media’s response to these tragedies compared to those in Brussels. While Brussels made headlines for several days, the reports on Iraq and Pakistan were brief and short-lived.We’ve seen this pattern before. At the time of the attacks in Paris last November, the international community rightfully came together in solidarity to mourn the 130 lives that were lost in Europe’s worst terrorist attack in the past decade. Little attention was paid, however, to the 43 that were killed in Beirut the previous day.It’s worth pointing out this contrast because the victims of both events are equally deserving of our prayers and sympathies. And there’s another layer that is important to consider relating to our perception of terrorism.When the media directs our attention almost exclusively to attacks targeting the West, it is possible to lose sight of where terrorists are having the most harmful impact—in the Middle East. In fact, most attacks in the past year have occurred in predominantly Muslim countries, such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Tunisia, and Turkey.Yet news coverage has mainly focused on the events in Western Europe and North American. Perhaps these stories are highlighted because they feel closer to home or seem less likely to occur in countries with strong democracies and high security. The point is, the loss of human life to terrorist activity is a horrific tragedy no matter who the victims are or where the event takes place.Another subtle outcome of this selective reporting is that it reinforces a worldview that frames the conflict as West vs. Middle East, or even West vs. Islam. When we hear news of a recent attack, it’s easy to assume that it was linked to ISIS. But we must remember that the West is not their only target. Thousands of refugees are fleeing Syria and other countries across the Middle East due to the threat that extremist groups pose to their lives.We must remember that the majority of Muslims are moderate and seek to amplify their voices, rather than the few fundamentalists who continue to take center stage.In the video below, one Muslim artist explains why ISIS does not represent Islam:[embed][/embed]Image credit: Google