Above: The Eiffel Tower lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag in solidarity. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Once more the world mourns. On Tuesday, March 22, Belgium became victim to another one of ISIS’ attacks. The mayhem started around 8 a.m. in the Zaventem Airport in Belgium. The departure terminal of the international airport was victim to two bomb blasts in quick succession of one another and in close proximity. These were not the only bombings of the day, though. Soon after, at 9:11 a.m., another bomb exploded in a subway station in the heart of Brussels, close to the headquarters of the European Union. The explosions are believed to be suicide bombings. A third bomb that failed to go off was also found at the airport.
Once more, ISIS attacks have wreaked havoc in Europe. Understandably, Europe and the U.S. have shown solidarity in dealing with ISIS. President Obama has acknowledged the bombing, stating, “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism; we can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people around the world.” French President Hollande has also said that “through the Brussels attack, it is the whole of Europe that is hit.” Iconic landmarks around the world including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower in France, and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany have lit up in Belgian flag colors to stand in solidarity with the victims.
While global solidarity in Belgium’s crisis has been remarkable, the fact that this solidarity was not the case when Turkey was recently plagued with a similar situation is saddening. Just three days before this incidence, Istanbul’s Istikal Avenue, which happens to be its busiest street as well as a tourist destination, suffered a bomb blast that killed over 30 people. It also happens to be its fifth bomb blast since October. Rather than discouraging sympathy, I encourage extending it to Turkey.
Just a few days ago, I came across a viral post on Facebook that eloquently raised my concern to address the earlier bombings in Ankara, Turkey. Posted by James Taylor, an excerpt of it goes as follows: “Contrary to what many people think, Turkey is not the Middle East. Ankara is not a war zone, it is a normal modern bustling city, just like any other European capital, and Kizilay is the absolute heart, the centre. It is very easy to look at terror attacks that happen in London, in New York, in Paris and feel pain and sadness for those victims, so why is it not the same for Ankara? Is it because you just don’t realise that Ankara is no different from any of these cities? Is it because you think that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, like Syria, like Iraq, like countries that are in a state of civil war, so therefore it must be the same and because you don’t care about those ones, then why should you care about Turkey? If you don’t believe that these attacks in Ankara affect you, or you can’t feel the same pain you felt during the Paris or London attacks, then maybe you should stop to think why, why is it that you feel like that. Turkey is an amazing country with truly wonderful people. I have never felt more welcome, more happy, more safe than I do here. Ankara is my home, it has been for the last 18 months, and it will continue to be my home. You were Charlie, you were Paris. Will you be Ankara?”
With the recent bombings, it is also highly likely that the resentment against Middle Eastern refugees will increase. Punitive measures against the entire refugee population for the acts of a few ISIS members will be the equivalent of the entire class being punished for the acts of one class clown. However, the consequences are much more significant for the refugees. I urge all of you to make this consideration as anti-Islamic and anti-refugee rhetoric is surely about to resurface.