We mourned Paris twice, can we spare some tears for Ankara too?
Ankara just went through a third suicide attack in five months that left at least 37 people dead. Yet many people wouldn’t know that because there was no option of marking yourself safe on Facebook, no option of the Turkish flag to show solidarity. And in a society obsessed with sharing all of our experiences on social media, these gestures, or rather lack thereof, do count. Once again, we got a confirmation that white European lives matter more than those of others. Contrary to popular belief, Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey and it is not in the Middle East. Just because it is more visited by white people doesn’t make it the capital city. You probably heard about the suicide attack in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square on the 12th of January of this year. That attack left 13 people dead, all foreigners. Did it receive more attention than the Ankara bombings because the victims were European? Is it because that part of Istanbul is on the European side and therefore deserves the white treatment?
102 people lost their lives on the 10th of October 2015 when two bombs were detonated in the vicinity of the main train station targeting a “Labour, Peace and Democracy” rally. It was the deadliest attack of its kind in Turkey’s modern history. There was some media coverage but a week later the world moved on but the Turks couldn’t. 28 people died on the 17th of February of this year after a car bomb exploded reportedly targeting military personnel travelling in heart of city. The government blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed group for each attack and restricted access to social media as well as placing a temporary ban on all press coverage of the bombings.
No one is saying that white lives don’t matter or that there is too much coverage regarding attacks where the victims are European. But there is an undeniable double standard when reporting on attacks in Europe and attacks everywhere else. Why is it that the whole world stood in solidarity with Paris twice but they shrugged their shoulders upon discovering what happened in Ankara? What do we view attacks happening in Europe as shocking but as inevitable if outside of Europe? Is it because until an attack hits close to home, it is too far and non-relatable? What is it about the Paris attacks that brought the whole world together? Is Turkey too Muslim to be treated like Paris despite being a secular republic? Let’s remember that acts of terrorism are acts of terrorism irrespective of where they take place and who the victims are.