Community can’t be built on exclusion and erasure

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As is quickly becoming tradition post-terrorist attack, the very early aftermath of the Paris attacks has ushered in an outpouring of solidarity. with world monuments being lit up with the colours of the French flag, #PrayforParis trending worldwide as a global community comes to together to share in the horror and sadness of these shocking attacks. Facebook has activated a check-in system for people to check in on loved-ones, as well as an extension to turn profile pictures red, white and blue.

News feeds everywhere are full of people expressing their disgust, shock and disbelief of the murder of so many people. There also more predictable patterns on social media. Muslims worldwide have begun to pointedly condemn the attacks and #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist has been trending for a few hours. Islam has been repeatedly condemned as a religion of violence and the opposition between a liberal, democracy-loving West and a barbaric, savage, oppressive Islam continues to fester.

The solidarity and community spirit is heartening to see but, as many others have already pointed out, where is the love and support for other groups of people that are hit by terrorist attacks. Where was the widespread media coverage for Beirut that suffered attacks only two days ago? Bombs in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq are only a few places where bombing has become almost a daily occurrence, but the media coverage and social media reaction is far from widespread.

The silence in solidarity is telling. It tells us that brown people, Muslim people, people living outside of the West are not worthy of the same solidarity and community and shared grief that is coming to characterise attacks in the US and Europe. It tells us whose lives are valued and whose lives are a footnote, if that. It tells us that the process of collective healing and dialogue about disgraceful attacks is a process reserved for a certain group of people only.

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