Read the original at London Review of Books.
At around 6.00 p.m on Thursday, 12 November, two bombs went off in a shopping district in southern Beirut. At least 43 people died and more than 200 were injured in the deadliest blast to hit the Lebanese capital since the end of the civil war in 1990. Isis claimed responsibility.
No monuments in Europe were lit up with the tricolour Lebanese flag; no Facebook safety check was turned on for Beirut residents; there was no one-click feature to allow Facebook users to add a Lebanese flag filter to their profile picture. Not many Western heads of state felt obliged to offer public condolences to Lebanon, a country of 4.4 million people which hastaken in more than a million Syrian refugees.
Joey Ayoub, who runs the popular Hummus for Thought blog, tweeted: ‘I can’t help but feel that my people’s deaths in #Beirut mean less to the world than my other people’s death in #Paris.’
By a wide margin, most victims of terrorism are Muslim: two-thirds of the people killed in terrorist attacks in 2013 were in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their deaths received little attention in the West. Yet when terror hits European or other Western countries, Muslim minorities often feel obliged to denounce violence as contrary to Islam.
After the Beirut blasts, the New York Times ran an article by Anne Barnard, the Beirut bureau chief, headlined: ‘Deadly Blasts Hit Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon.’ As the Slate journalist Ben Norton pointed out, a comparable headline describing the attacks in France would have read: ‘Deadly Blasts Hit Nato Stronghold in Paris.’ (The headline was later changed, by Barnard’s request, to ‘Deadly Blasts Hit Crowded Neighborhood in Southern Beirut.’)