After Attacks on Muslims, Many Ask: Where Is the Outpouring?


PARIS — In recent days, jihadists killed 41 people at Istanbul’s bustling, shiny airport; 22 at a cafe in Bangladesh; and at least 250 celebrating the final days of Ramadan in Baghdad. Then the Islamic State attacked, again, with bombings in three cities in Saudi Arabia.

By Tuesday, Michel Kilo, a Syrian dissident, was leaning wearily over his coffee at a Left Bank cafe, wondering: Where was the global outrage? Where was the outpouring that came after the same terrorist groups unleashed horror in Brussels and here in Paris? In a supposedly globalized world, do nonwhites, non-Christians and non-Westerners count as fully human?

“All this crazy violence has a goal,” Mr. Kilo, who is Christian, said: to create a backlash against Muslims, divide societies and “make Sunnis feel that no matter what happens, they don’t have any other option.”

This is not the first time that the West seems to have shrugged off massacres in predominantly Muslim countries. But the relative indifference after so many deaths caused by the very groups that have plagued the West is more than a matter of hurt feelings.

One of the primary goals of the Islamic State and other radical Islamist groups is to drive a wedge between Sunni Muslims and the wider world, to fuel alienation as a recruiting tool. And when that world appears to show less empathy for the victims of attacks in Muslim nations, who have borne the brunt of the Islamic State’s massacres and predatory rule, it seems to prove their point.

“Why isn’t #PrayForIraq trending?” Razan Hasan of Baghdad posted on Twitter. “Oh yeah no one cares about us.”

Hira Saeed of Ottawa asked on Twitter why Facebook had not activated itsSafety Check feature after recent attacks as it did for Brussels, Paris andOrlando, Fla., and why social media had not been similarly filled with the flags of Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq. “The hypocrisy is the western world is strong,” she wrote.

The global mood increasingly feels like one of atavism, of retreat into narrower identities of nation, politics or sect, with Britain voting to leave the European Union and many Americans supporting the nativist presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

The violence feeds a growing impulse among many in the West to fear Muslims and Arabs, which has already prompted a political crisis over immigration that, in turn, has buttressed extremists’ goals. Europe is convulsing over a movement to reject refugees from Syria and Iraq, who are themselves fleeing violence by jihadists and their own governments.

It is in Syria and Iraq that the Islamic State has established its so-called caliphate, ruling overwhelmingly Muslim populations with the threat of gruesome violence. The group has killed Muslims in those countries by the thousands, by far the largest share of its victims.

When Islamic State militants mowed down cafegoers in Paris in November, people across the world adorned public landmarks and their private Facebook pages with the French flag — not just in Europe and the United States, but also, with an empathy born of experience, in Syria and Iraq.

But over the past week, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature, which allows people in the vicinity of a disaster to mark themselves safe, only after the attack on the Istanbul airport.

The flags of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Bangladesh have not been widely projected on landmarks or adopted as profile pictures. (Photographs on social media showed that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of Europe’s two majority-Muslim countries, the Turkish flag was beamed onto a bridge in Mostar, the scene of sectarian killings in the 1990s.) Some wonder if part of the reason is that three of those flags bear Islamic symbols or slogans.

“More deaths in Iraq in the last week than Paris and Orlando combined but nobody is changing their profile pics, building colours, etc.,” Kareem Rahaman wrote on Twitter.

There are some understandable reasons for the differing reactions. People typically identify more closely with places and cultures that are familiar to them. With Iraq, there is also a degree of fatigue, and a feeling that a bombing there is less surprising than one in Europe.

Deadly attacks have been a constant in Iraq after years of American occupation, followed by a sectarian war in which Sunni and Shiite militias slaughtered civilians of the opposite sect. Still, while terrorist attacks in Europe may feel more surprising to the West — though they have become all too common there, too — that does not explain the relative indifference to attacks in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh.

“That’s what happens in Iraq,” Sajad Jiyad, a researcher in Iraq who rushed to the scene of the Baghdad bombing and found that one of his friends had died there, wrote on his own blog. “Deaths become just statistics, and the frequency of attacks means the shock doesn’t register as it would elsewhere, or that you have enough time to feel sad or grieve.”

In the Muslim world, the partly sectarian nature of some conflicts shades people’s reactions, producing a kind of internal sympathy gap. People from one sect or political group often discount or excuse casualties from another.

In Iraq, the Islamic State took root within an insurgency against the country’s Shiite-led government, and Shiite militias fighting it have been accused of brutality as well. In Syria, it is just one menace; many more Syrians have been killed by the government’s attacks on areas held by Sunni insurgents, including rebel groups opposed to the Islamic State.

Mr. Jiyad added that the Islamic State was “hoping to incite a reaction and a spiral into endless violence,” and that Iraqis played into that when they mourned more for their own sect than for others.

In the West, though, there is a tendency in certain quarters, legitimized by some politicians, to conflate extremist Islamist militants with the Muslim societies that are often their primary victims, or to dismiss Muslim countries as inherently violent.

“Either Iraqi blood is too cheap or murder is normalized,” Sayed Saleh Qazwini, an Islamic educator in Michigan, wrote on Twitter.

In Paris, a rainbow flag hangs on the Hotel de Ville, memorializing the 49 people gunned down at a gay nightclub in Orlando last month. But in a corner shop on Monday, the woman who served me had no such sympathy for the Middle East.

When she asked where I lived, and I told her Beirut, Lebanon, she exclaimed about the violence in the region. Struggling to explain that there is a lot more than just violence happening there, I said: “Yes, there are a lot of problems. What can one do?”

“Exterminer les islamistes,” she said grimly. Exterminate: a strong word. Islamists: a broad category of people.

Mr. Kilo, who spent years in the prisons of the Syrian government and opposes both it and the Islamic State, said his life in Paris had changed since November. Speaking Arabic is now suspect. He sees fear in French people’s eyes when they see Syrians.

“I’m afraid, too,” he said. “Someone could blow himself up anytime.”

He has written an article that will be published in the newspaper Al Araby Al Jadeed, titled “The Curse of Syria.”

The failure of empathy is broader than the Islamic State, he said; it extends to the international community’s unwillingness or inability to stop the slaughter of the Syrian civil war, which began with protests for political change.

“If we lose all humanity,” Mr. Kilo said, “if you allow the slaughter of a nation for five and a half years, after all the leaders of the international community declared the right of these people to revolt against their government, then expect Islamic State — and many other Islamic States in other forms and shapes.”


By            :               Anne Barnard

Date         :               July 5, 2016

Source     :               The New York Times


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The worst ISIS attack in days is the one the world probably cares least about


First, they came for Istanbul. On Tuesday night, three suspected Islamic State militants launched a brazen assault on Turkey’s main airport, exploding their suicide vests after gunning down numerous passengers and airport staff. At least 45 people were killed. The world panicked; Istanbul Ataturk Airport isone of the busiest hubs in Europe and the Middle East, and it is among the most fortified. Are our airports safe, wondered American TV anchors. Could this happen here on the Fourth of July?

Next, they came for Dhaka. Gunmen whom many have linked to the Islamic State raided a popular cafe in an upscale neighborhood in Bangladesh’s teeming capital. After a 10-hour standoff, authorities stormed the establishment; at least 20 hostages, mostly Italian and Japanese nationals, died at the militants’ hands. U.S. college students also were among the dead. The Islamic State’s reach is growing far from the Middle East, security experts fretted. Foreigners are at risk all over the Muslim world.

Then, they attacked Baghdad. In the early hours of Sunday morning, as hundreds of Iraqis gathered during the holy month of Ramadan, a car bombexploded in the crowded Karrada shopping district. The blast killed a staggering number of people — the latest death toll is at least 187 — including many children. The area is predominantly Shiite, making it a choice target for the Sunni extremist group.

It’s unlikely that this attack, just the latest in an unending stream of tragedy to envelop the Iraqi capital, will generate the same panic in the West as the earlier two incidents. For years now, we have become almost numb to the violence in Baghdad: Deadly car bombings there conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of the victims’ names and life stories, and they attract only muted global sympathy.

The BBC has a timeline of the recent attacks linked to the Islamic State in the city and elsewhere in Iraq, including a hideous week of bombings in Baghdad in mid-May:

 9 June 2016: At least 30 people killed in and around Baghdad in two suicide attacks claimed by IS

17 May 2016: Four bomb blasts kill 69 people in Baghdad; three of the targets were Shia areas

11 May 2016: Car bombs in Baghdad kill 93 people, including 64 in market in Shia district of Sadr City

1 May 2016: Two car bombs kill at least 33 people in southern city of Samawa

26 March 2016: Suicide attack targets football match in central city of Iskandariya, killing at least 32

6 March 2016: Fuel tanker blown up at checkpoint near central city of Hilla, killing 47

28 February 2016: Twin suicide bomb attacks hit market in Sadr City, killing 70

And all of this is only from this year. Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and the bungled occupation that followed, Baghdad has been the site of numerous rounds of sectarian bloodletting, al-Qaeda attacks and now the ravages of the Islamic State. Despite suffering significant defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army, including the loss of the city of Fallujah, the militant group has shown its willingness and capacity to brutalize the country’s population.

Public anger in the Iraqi capital, as my colleague Loveday Morris reports, is not being directed at foreign conspirators or even — first and foremost — at the militants, but at a much-maligned government that is failing to keep the country safe.

“The street was full of life last night,” one Karrada resident told The Washington Post, “and now the smell of death is all over the place.”


By            :               Ishaan Tharoor

Date         :               July 4, 2016

Source     :               The Washington Post

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Why don’t we stand with Turkey, like we did with Paris and Orlando?


We are conditioned to feel content with a tepid reaction from our political leaders to atrocities in Turkey and the Middle East

Night was coming on as I arrived in Heathrow airport on Tuesday. In a waiting lounge at the airport’s central bus station, the urgent and meretricious tones of the television news could be heard. A gang of homicidal thugs had massacred 41 innocent people and injured 239 at Turkey’s Ataturk airport.

But then, right there, the media fanfare stopped. Unlike the recent attack in Orlando, or the terrorist assault on the streets of Paris last November, terrorism in Turkey isn’t deemed worthy of a week-long investigation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hoisted the Belgian flag above Downing Street following the Brussels attacks earlier this year, but we won’t see the same treatment for Turkey. So far, solidarity is yet to exceed hackneyed diplo-speak and statements of the obvious; Cameron described the attack as “hideous”, as if anyone needed telling.

Why do we feel content with such a tepid reaction? After all, we would be expecting much more from our political leaders if it were in Europe or the US.

So why is it that when an attack like Brussels or Orlando happens, the world is forced to mourn (quite rightly) and the West becomes the centre of the world’s gravity yet when the producers of indiscriminate explosions strike in Beirut, Baghdad or Istanbul, it merits fleeting news coverage at best?

Why will Jerusalem’s Old City Wall’s not be illuminated red with the Turkish flag? Why will there not be a barrage of celebrity tweets and tear-jerking speeches about the massacre in Ankara?

The tutors of our moral indignation, the think-piece merchants and media pundits, have managed to outmanoeuvre our better judgement by inculcating a simple but politicised cognitive bias: we (Westerners) are killed in terrorist attacks, and it’s a tragedy; they (Arabs, Turks) die in terrorist attacks, and it’s an unfortunate norm in a destabilized region.

In total, 41 people have been killed and 239 left injured after the attacks at Ataturk. And according to Iraq Body Count, 1,087 Iraqis were killed by suicide bombings in June alone. And no one flinches.

It is a casual assumption, informed by lazy generalisations about the Arab or Muslim world – including Turkey – that violence is and will always be, an intrinsic part of life in the Middle East.

This is not to try and discourage such acts of solidarity, as they are important mechanisms for defeating fascism, it is to question why the same demonstrations of grievance are not afforded to our Turkish and Arab brothers and sisters.

But the persistence of tribal thinking about identity, and the indifference it produces in our news coverage and politics – even in the face of great misery caused by the current wave of Islamist terrorism – is a grim symptom of our political underdevelopment.

Worse still, for as long as we remain divided and unsympathetic, it will be increasingly difficult to defeat the fascist pest of Isis and other fundamentalist sects.


By            :               Matt Ayton

Date         :               June 30, 2016

Source     :               Independent

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Dramatic inequality among world’s poorest, richest children


The number of children who do not attend school is rising, child marriage has not dropped in decades and millions of young children will die mostly preventable deaths by 2030 if global poverty is not addressed, UNICEF said in a bleak report issued on Tuesday.

Poor children are twice as likely as rich children to die before age 5, and poor girls are more than twice as likely to become child brides in signs of troubling inequality, said the annual report by the United Nations’ children’s agency.

Noting some progress in halving global mortality rates for children under 5 since 1990 and boys and girls attending primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, the report said such developments have been neither even nor fair, with repercussions for global turmoil.

“Some of the big challenges that we now face, like refugees and migrants, are connected with inequality and poverty,” Justin Forsyth, Undine’s deputy executive director, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Narrowing that inequity “is good for those children, but it’s also good to stop future crises,” he said.

The report called for stronger efforts to educate the world’s children, noting that on average each additional year of education a child receives increases her or his adult earnings by about 10 percent.

Also it said for each additional year of schooling completed on average by young adults, a nation’s poverty rate drops 9 percent.

About 124 million children do not go to primary and lower-secondary school, a number that has increased about 2 million since 2011, it said.

Children born to educated mothers are almost 3 times less likely to die and more likely to go to school, delay marriage and postpone child bearing, said the report, entitled “State of the World’s Children.”

The rate of child marriages among the world’s poorest girls has remained unchanged since about 1990, and 15 million girls are married as children every year, it said.

If nothing is done, it said 69 million children will die before age 5 from mostly preventable causes by 2030, and nearly of half of them will be from sub-Saharan Africa.

Nine out of ten children in the same region will be living in extreme poverty, which means living on less than $1.90 US per day, it said.

Battling such poverty and equality and promoting education for children, particularly girls, were among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals adopted last fall to tackle an array of global woes by 2030.

Educating children is particularly critical given the global conflicts fueled by decimalization, Forsyth added.

“There is a direct link between children for many, many years missing out on education and then the ability of more extremist elements to organize,” he said.


Date         :               June 28, 2016

Source     :     

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Inequality not personalities drove Britain to Brexit


Angst, alienation and resentment fueled the vote to leave the EU.

LONDON — Brexit delivered a political earthquake, the tremors of which will be felt for generations. Within only a matter of days Britain voted to end its membership of the European Union, saw its currency slump to a 31-year low, watched the prime minister resign, revived an old constitutional crisis in Scotland and triggered a new one in Northern Ireland, and looked on as the main opposition Labour Party spiraled into a full-blown crisis.

As one journalist quipped the day after the referendum: “It’s been a rather strange day. The prime minister has resigned and it’s only our third most important story.”

How could Euroskeptics — who had been consistently underestimated — defeat the Remain camp by nearly 4 percentage points or 1.3 million votes? The difference between the two sides was even more pronounced in England where Leave won by nearly 7 points.

It would be a mistake to view this as primarily a judgment on Britain’s relationship with Europe or a simplistic verdict on the preceding referendum campaign. Instead voting patterns give full expression to deeper divides that have been bubbling away under the surface of British politics for decades, and which are also visible in other Western democracies. The Remain campaign’s miscalculation was to fail to grasp them.

The town that gave the strongest support for Brexit was the small, East Midlands port of Boston where 76 percent voted to leave the EU. Boston — which also delivered the highest support for UKIP in the 2014 European Parliament elections — offers insight into Brexit heartlands.

The town, which has experienced significant migration from Central and Eastern Europe, is also noticeable for economic deprivation. The median income in Boston is less than £17,000 and one in three people have no formal qualifications at all.

Filled with disadvantaged, working-class Britons who do not feel as though they have been winning from European integration, immigration, and globalization, life in Boston contrasts sharply with that in the area that returned the strongest vote for Remain, the London borough of Lambeth. Here, where 79 percent voted to remain in the EU, life is remarkably different. Compared to Boston, there are more than twice as many professionals, nearly twice as many 18-30-year-olds and fewer than half as many working-class voters, pensioners and people with no qualifications. The average voter in Lambeth earns nearly £10,000 more each year than the average voter in Boston.

Voting patterns in other heartlands for Remain and Leave paint a picture of a country sharply divided along three dimensions: social class, generation, and geography.

On average, for example, across the 20 authorities where support for remaining in the EU was strongest, 45 percent of voters have a university degree, 42 percent are professionals, 26 percent describe themselves as “non-white,” only 11 percent are pensioners and the median income is £27,000. But across the 20 authorities where support for leaving the EU was strongest, only 16 percent of voters have a degree, only 23 percent are professional, less than 5 percent are non-white, nearly 20 percent are pensioners and the median income is £18,000.

My academic research suggested that the Remain camp would be best placed making a positive case for Britain’s EU membership. Instead, it spent almost all of the campaign focusing on the negatives of Brexit, robotically claiming leaving the EU would jeopardize Britain’s economic future. The problem was that most economically disaffected voters who were tempted by Brexit were already resigned to believing that their future would be worse than the past. And they were clear about who was to blame.

Brexit drew most of its strength from voters who have felt left behind by the rapid economic transformation of Britain, or more accurately of London and south-east England. They hold a more socially conservative outlook on Europe, immigration, and national identity that in recent years have become just as important as old disputes between labor and capital.

Such voters have also felt increasingly cut adrift from established parties who have spent much of the past two decades pitching to the middle-classes. Tony Blair and David Cameron both gambled in their own ways that as they battled to win over the middle-classes the more working-class sections of their electorates would stay loyal. But then along came the issues of Europe and immigration that cut directly across the old left-right divide and were instead rooted in a divide between liberals and authoritarians.

This presented blue-collar workers on the left and social conservatives on the right with a unique opportunity to rebel against socially liberal and middle-class elites who promote values that they abhor. Last week they seized this opportunity.

By voting for Brexit these voters imposed a different set of values on the political landscape than those that unite the London-centric media and political classes. As my co-author Robert Ford noted after the result: “Feeling upset by wrenching social change that has been imposed on you by people whose values you don’t share or understand? Now you know how UKIP voters have felt.”

Brexit, therefore, owed less to the personal charisma of Boris Johnson, the failings of David Cameron or the ambivalence of Jeremy Corbyn than to a much deeper sense of angst, alienation and resentment among more financially disadvantaged, less well-educated and older Britons who are often only one financial crisis away from disaster. They are the voters of former industrial strongholds, like the northern towns of Barnsley, Mansfield, Stoke and Doncaster, Welsh towns like Merthyr Tydfil that once fueled the industrial revolution, fading coastal towns such as Blackpool, Great Yarmouth and Castle Point, or blue-collar but aspirational places like Basildon, Havering and Thurrock.

It is certainly true that Brexit also found support in more leafy, affluent Conservative areas such as Aylesbury, Chichester, South Bucks and West Dorset where previously loyal Tories rejected Cameron’s increasingly desperate pleas to remain. By doing so they have ensured that Cameron becomes the third prime minister in post-war Britain who will principally be remembered for just one thing; after Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis, and then Tony Blair and Iraq, future generations of students will write about Cameron as the man who took Britain out of the EU and also, given the now high probability of a second independence referendum in Scotland, caused the break-up of the entire United Kingdom. For this reason, he may be remembered as one of the most unsuccessful leaders in Britain’s modern political history.

But it remains the case that support for Brexit was unquestionably strongest in a more economically marginal and left-behind Britain.

This is why Nigel Farage and UKIP are an unpopular but important part of the story of how Brexit came to life, having cultivated this political discontent throughout the early years of the 21st century. Brexit built on UKIP’s foundations. Farage and his party already averaged 39 percent of the vote across the 50 areas that would go on to give the strongest support to Brexit but only 13 percent in areas that gave the strongest support to Remain.

Farage failed to lead a UKIP charge into the House of Commons — the party has just one MP — but his decision to fuse Europe with immigration enabled him to politicize these grievances and achieve something far greater: to transform Euroskepticism from a fringe interest into a mainstream concern that would eventually deliver his lifelong ambition of Brexit.

Remainers have unsurprisingly criticized the result and demanded a re-run of the vote, though such an outcome will not be forthcoming. It is worth noting that of the 50 areas that recorded the lowest levels of turnout no fewer than half of them were in London and Scotland, two areas that were supposed to be hotbeds of Remain fervor.

But in the end, the campaign failed to enthuse who it needed to enthuse. Prior to the result, the Remain camp talked enthusiastically about targeting large, young, diverse cities but when the dust cleared these were the places — Manchester, Nottingham, Dundee, Birmingham and Liverpool — where voters turned out in lower numbers.

Most academics, including myself, would reject the claim that higher turnout in such areas would have altered the final result but it is worth noting that areas where objections are loudest are often those where the turnout was lowest. For instance, while the London districts of Hackney and Camden are among the top five areas in terms of the number of people wanting a second referendum, these same areas were also among the bottom 10 percent for turnout, a fact that Remainers might like to reflect on.

It is difficult to see how the underlying divides that gave birth to Brexit can be resolved. If anything they may sharpen further as those who are now responsible for negotiating with the EU begin to backtrack on earlier promises about reducing immigration, which was by far the dominant concern for Brexit voters.

Should a post-Brexit government fail to respond quickly and clearly on this issue then it would be the equivalent of pouring a gasoline all over the fire of populist, anti-establishment sentiment. Britain’s left-behind have already demonstrated their willingness to punch the political elite in the face. I wouldn’t test them again.


Matthew Goodwin is professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent and a senior fellow at Chatham House.


By            :               Matthew Goodwin

Date         :               June 28, 2016

Source     :     

Posted in Inequalities & Social Justice, Latest Post, Social and Economic Inequalities | Leave a comment
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