Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo and France have had a few parallels lately. They’ve all been attacked fatally.
On 3 January 2015, 2 small towns were attacked in Nigeria where roughly 3720 structures including homes were destroyed and damaged by fire (nytimes 1/18/15 “in Nigeria the terror continues”). In Baga, Nigeria, reports say that 150 were slaughtered by hundreds of Boko Haram militants, and some of the 200 plus children kidnapped by Boko Haram escaped. We’d still like to know about them. Death tolls in Nigeria recently ranged from a few hundred to a few thousands and they are on the verge of establishing an Islamic caliphate there. A few days after the Charlie hebdo massacre, a young girl 10 years old was strapped with bombs; she didn’t know she was fatally burdened with bombs, and detonated killing an estimated 20 people.
In December, terrorists opened fire indiscriminately in a school in Pakistan, killing 132 school children between the ages of 12-16, 10 school staff members and three soldiers for one whole hour which received very little coverage. More than 100 were also injured. Since Malala Yousafzai recently received a Nobel peace prize for which the terrorists shot the kids, one would think that such news would be more noteworthy and televised and discussed on social media.
In Congo, too, the biggest horror story of modern times in one of Africa’s largest countries, sexual violence reigns supreme and has also been sidelined by the media. Congo has come to be known as the rape capital of the world, because women are raped in terrible ways, their reproductive organs wrecked. They, too, have been forgotten by media sensitivity.
The absence of news worthiness in Nigeria, Congo and Pakistan [and elsewhere] leads to a conversation about the media in the West being biased and sticking up for their own, especially as there’s been an outpouring of support for Paris. The charlie hebdo massacre was an atrocity without doubt, but it is only getting the attention it is because it has spawned memes and a catchy hashtag #jesuischarlie and #noussommescharlie. Why aren’t people marching 4 million strong and more against these atrocities in Pakistan or Congo or Nigeria in support of those massacred or raped?
According to Andrew Revkin in “Where terrorism is normal [Nigeria] and news [France” [NYTImes 1/12/2015], the reason that the news is one sided is due to Nigeria’s abject government. France has an effective government so the public [media, too] is interested in that. Revkin says the French may not be too fond of Hollande, but he responded to the country’s attack with decisiveness. But the Nigerian president Jonathan Goodluck has done little to contain Boko Haram. This difference in government accounts for Nigeria’s lack of news worthiness.
But not so long ago, Michelle Obama ‘selfied’ and launched “BringBackOurGirls” cause, which others promoted on many media platforms. USA had dispatched some 80 air drones to help find the 200 missing school girls, and sent a pentagon-led team of 30 specialists to advise and help their government on intelligence and operational matters.
While girls’ lack of education in Nigeria may certainly be due to the government’s failure, I beg to differ on the reason why media has moved on, and out of Nigeria or Pakistan or Congo, and into France. If it were another “third world” or non-first world country with a strong government, would media go there in favor of France?
In Nigeria, Congo and Pakistan, terrorism is normal, and in Paris, it is not. Media must not discriminate, and it must discuss these human rights issues equally, in support, as it has been doing in Paris.
Jesuischarlie is good, as noussommescharlie is; but jesuisBaga, and JesuisBlacklivesmatter and jesuisbringbackourgirls and jesuisCongo are all worthy media causes, because all lives matter.