The world is horrified : another terrorist attack hit the West in the heart of Europe. Explosions shook the airport and a subway station in Brussels. As usual, when the victims are westerners, a full coverage of the event is broadcasted on global TV channels. The terrorist attack and the victims would make the headlines for long time to properly display due outrage and empathy from all over the world. As usual, there would be no TV coverage for the victims of terrorism from the Rest of the world : Iraq, Mali, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen…
In our sad world, a victim from the West doesn’t equate a subaltern victim from the Rest…
From Algeria, watching those images from Brussels, brought back to me sad memories. It reminded me of the terrorist attack on the airport of Algiers, in 1992.
Does Europe remember? Does the West still remember? When terrorism hit Algeria and ruined our life for ten long years. It was may be the beginning of what would be lately and falsely called “Islamist terrorism”. I remember then, our deads didn’t make the headlines in Europe. We were dying in the most horrendous and terrifying ways : slaughtered in suicide bombs and mass killings. We were living day and night in terror, for years. But Europe didn’t care then. Nobody cared, not even our fellow, so called, Arab brothers. Nobody said “Je suis Alger”, nobody shed a tear for our dead, no country expressed its solidarity and lit up its landmark buildings with the colours of Algeria…not even when the death toll reached hundreds of thousands of deads.
The West simply didn’t care for our suffering… because we are located on the wrong side of the World map of empathy, I guess.
I still remember August 1997, when 200 people, may be more, were massacred in the town of Rais. They were innocent civilians, mainly women and kids. Their death didn’t make the headlines worldwide. I remember the news on a European TV channel. It simply announced: “another massacre in Algeria”. “Another one” as if massacres were normal fate for my people. The news took few minutes and was soon forgotten. Few days later, a princess from UK died in a car crash in Paris and it did make the headlines… a full coverage broadcasted all over the world. The whole world mourn her…shed tears for her, lit candles for her, while we were dying anonymously …in silence… in Algeria.
I understood then what means the selective empathy of the West.
When years later, the West suffered its first terrorist attack in NewYork, the whole West became outraged. Europe cried for the victims of the 9/11 attacks and acclaimed the newly launched war on terror. But the West didn’t care for the consequent casualties inflicted to the Rest of the world. They didn’t care for the thousands who died and are still dying, in the Arab region because of the chaos they created in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Syria, Yemen and Libya.
I am not surprised by the West’s selective empathy some seem to discover lately. The West is still the West. Underneath the varnish of modern civilisation, the West is still the cruel, greedy, arrogant, and racist empire who colonized and plundered our lands, reshaped our geography and massacred our people.
I am rather surprised that the West, who has never shown any empathy for the suffering of my people, expect from me, the subaltern victim of terrorism, to feel guilty for ISIS crimes and show empathy for the victims in the West.
How naive is such western arrogance!