Dear Sympathy Shamers



You seem to be angry that all the people who have put up the Tricolour on their Facebook page, or those who have made comment about the horrific events in Paris are only part-timers in the world of public grief. That the omission of flags for Lebanon on our profiles a day earlier due to the IS suicide bomber who detonated a bike loaded with explosives and second suicide bomber detonated himself killing 43 dead and wounding another 240 was some kind of hypocrisy on our part.

Nobody that I know would celebrate the mass murder in Lebanon any more than they would any other attack on decent everyday citizens of the world. You appear to be trying to point out that you are cleverer or more in touch with the world than us. Perhaps you travel regularly to Beirut and feel we have missed the fact it could have been you on Thursday that was killed.

You have missed the point of the public outpouring of emotion for Paris. IS or ISIL or DASH – or whatever the murdering bastards are calling themselves this week – have killed people constantly since their emergence in countries across the middle east. Include Boko Haram in Africa then you are into four figures of deaths in the last few months. From Yemen to Egypt to Iraq to Turkey to Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia Islamic State have killed indiscriminately hundreds of people for a cause even they seem to have lost the purpose of.

So why are you picking on those who choose to mourn the passing of those in Paris? I applaud your international awareness but Paris is different and not for the racist reasons some have put forward.

It’s not because Arab lives don’t matter.

It’s not because of France’s secular society and the issues surrounding Muslims in France.

It’s not because I don’t care or that I am unaware of what happens across the globe.

It’s because it’s on our doorstep and happening to a place we have been several times. To a place I know people have lived and worked in. To a place I was only last summer.

That’s not selfish, it’s worrying.

I am the first to have said about the mass murder in the middle east under the name of a religion these people don’t truly believe in. And I condemn every death regardless which side it is on – if you’re bored have a look back through the blogs from previous months and years to see that i look beyond next door.

Here’s the thing that triggered this outpouring that you are either missing or being deliberately obtuse about – this is in retaliation for nations who take IS on. France has a wider base in this area fighting Boko Haram in Africa countries as well as in the Middle East. They are a target on more than one front and with the largest Muslim population in Europe it is a target for the terrorists to try to split their society.

No-one is saying France is perfect but it is not downtown Baghdad or the West Bank – it’s our neighbour and friend; someone who we fight alongside in this unwinnable war.

For me that’s the big issue here. We are all fighting a war that cannot be won through guns or bombs. Yesterday’s news of progress in the Syrian peace talks shows we are slowly making progress. And to burst another bubble of the critical it’s not that the media and press don’t report the “bigger picture” you talk of, it’s that people don’t fully understand the complex nature of groups like Boko Haram or DASH. I doubt even you could explain the various factions in Syria and how outside countries are supporting various groups to bring an end to this five-year civil war.

All I ask is that you don’t judge others or question their participation in an act of solidarity – instead use the opportunity to engage them in the wider picture, develop their knowledge by posting things that widen their understanding rather than shouting at them for their narrow view. Already I’ve seen petitions to stop all refugee movement all because one of the attackers on Friday had come through this path. Those refugees are escaping these people too and if we don’t protect them we could be condemning them to death.

If someone flies the flag of another country to show solidarity with them in a time of need I wholeheartedly support it. If someone condemns them because they can’t appreciate that then I feel sad for them that they have such a narrow view.

Yes it’s the critics with a narrow view not the ones with the Tricolour – you are saying that unless we recognise all deaths we shouldn’t recognise these ones. The opposite should be true – because people recognise the atrocities in Paris means they will be open to hearing about the bigger picture.

Educate people instead of haranguing them about what they don’t know or express. And as Malala – a victim of violence from these animals – put it:

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

Be a teacher, not someone who condemns people who are open to learning about these things.




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