After Attacks on Muslims, Many Ask: Where Is the Outpouring?
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.
Actually I was surprised last week that there was no sympathetic reaction to the attack in Turkey at least.