We Prayed For Paris, And Stood With Orlando. What About Istanbul?

READING TIME    6 Minutes

On the 1st of January 2017, Istanbul's famous Reina nightclub was attacked and left 39 dead. At least 15 of the victims were foreign nationals, including 2 Indians. The terror organization ISIS has claimed responsibility for this stating,

"In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday."

The initial gunshots sent the club's patrons into a panic, with people jumping into the Bosphorus river and swimming to safety. At least 70 people were hospitalized from the attack. Earlier in 2016, Istanbul had to mourn the deaths of 45 innocents when ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) attacked the Ataturk Airport. Club-owner Mehmet Kocarslan who had only recently ordered for increased security, fearing that Reina would be a target said,

“I’m sick of blood,our souls are dead. My friends, my guests are dead"

These are the cold, hard facts of the Istanbul attacks. These attacks, like the ones in Paris and Orlando, were carried out by extremists who kill to impose their beliefs on the rest of us. In all 3 cases, lives were lost and blood was shed. Back home in India, we prayed for Paris. We prayed for every single life lost there, irrespective of how many people died. We stood with Orlando, and listened dutifully to the stories of every victim. We sympathized with the fear that they were living in, and I know that I did all this without even knowing how many people died. We didn't need to know the body count to mourn the fact that there were lifeless bodies.

Istanbul, however, told a completely different story. Media coverage of the attacks has been close to minimal, while we're still to have a trending hashtag or a Facebook filter in memory of those 39 victims. Under the guise of 'covering' the attacks, The Independent thought it was a good idea to publish an article called, "This Is The Reason Why We Don't Dwell On Turkish Deaths In The West" that spoke of numbers, and pointed at Turkey's involvement in present day wars, as if that somehow legitimizes our apathy.

We don't care for the fact that Istanbul's new year was marked by an incredibly tragic event, that loved ones were lost less than hour into 2017. In comparison, we mourned the loss of the famous and the rich throughout 2016 (don't get me wrong, so did I), and even called 2016 a shitty year from beginning to end. We put up emotional statuses on how each one, whether it was Carrie Fisher or David Bowie, affected our lives. Long story short, we mourned for deaths in the West, and turned immune to deaths in the Middle East.

Of course, we did cry for Aleppo. We were shaken by those graphic images of death and violence, we tried our best to reach out to the victims. We finally acknowledged the tragedy that is Aleppo when it was beyond saving, after 5 continuous years of civilian deaths. After being ignored by the world, the people of Aleppo finally had to take to social media themselves, and that's when we FINALLY paid attention. That's when we finally mourned the horrors of Syria. We've been fairly selective with the pain we feel and the people we mourn, haven't we?

This doesn't make us bad, or even insensitive people- the media too is very selective in its coverage. It just means that, supported by casual assumptions, we've subconsciously started placing different values on human lives. Violence and tragedies in the 'liberal' and 'developed West' horrifies us. We lazily assume that the Middle East has, and always will be ridden with violence.It's almost like we've given up on them having any semblance of normalcy, and we leave them to fend for themselves. So instead of mourning the thousands of tragedies that those in the Middle East suffer, we go about life as usual until their suffering is literally staring us in the face. It's easy to ignore those who are used to death, right?

Honestly, there's nothing much that we can do for Istanbul, Aleppo, or Afghanistan. But the least we can do is mourn them, stand with them, pray for them, and most importantly, acknowledge that their lives are just as important as anyone else's. The least we can do is not give up on them.

Fact Source: CNN , India Today

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