On March 22, a series of bombings in Brussels, Belgium, killed 31 people and injured 330. It was a tragic and horrific terrorist attack that was linked to ISIS and should have never occurred. However, the bombings in Brussels weren’t any more tragic than those that occurred later the same week in Iraq and Pakistan, but the way the media reported them, many people didn’t even know they occurred.
In Iraq, on March 25, a man wearing a bomb walked into a soccer stadium and blew himself up, claiming the lives of 41 individuals and wounding 105. ISIS claimed the suicide bombing. In Pakistan, in a park on Easter Sunday, a suicide bomber targeting Christians, killed 72 people and injured more than 320. Thirty-six of the individuals killed were children. Tehreek – e- Taliban Pakistak Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), a Pakistani Taliban group, claimed responsibility for this attack.
All three of the attacks claimed civilian lives and all three of them were equally tragic. However, according to media coverage of the events, that’s not the case.
After the Brussels attack, as soon as Americans began waking up and turning on the news or receiving the updates on their smartphones, they were informed about the ongoing terrorist attack in Europe. There was broadcast news coverage on most major networks throughout the day and updates on the story were consistently being reported throughout the week. Whereas the other two bombings in Iraq and Pakistan received nowhere near the same amount of coverage, instead just being a mention in a newscast. Many Americans didn’t even know the two other bombings occurred.
On Facebook, after the Brussels attack you could add a Belgium flag filter to your profile picture to show your support. There were no filters for Iraq or Pakistan.
The only difference between the attacks were that one happened in a European country and the other two happened in the Middle East, but all the lives lost are equally important. In many ways, it seems as if sometimes the media inadvertently prioritizes lives in certain parts of the world as more important than those living in other countries.
One might argue that the difference in the way the media portrayed the attacks is because bombings like these are more common in the Middle East, whereas in Europe events like this are more rare. In addition, some might say that after years of being at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans consuming the news simply aren’t as interested in it.
Tragic events around the world happen almost every day, and while it may be impractical for the media to always design news coverage around these events every day and for Facebook to design a photo filter for each country in the world, more should still be done.
The events in Iraq and Pakistan were just as tragic as those in Brussels and should have received more media coverage. Lives lost should not be prioritized based on what country they live in because every life lost is just as important.