My people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris

Published: November 16, 2015
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A relative of Samer Huhu, who was killed in a twin bombing attack in Beirut, waves his portrait. PHOTO: AP

I come from a privileged Francophone community in Lebanon. This has meant that I’ve always seen France as my second home. The streets of Paris are as familiar to me as the streets of Beirut. I was just in Paris a few days ago.

These have been two horrible nights. The first took the lives of over 40 in Beirut, the second took the lives of over 100 in Paris.

It also seems clear to me that to the world, my people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris.

‘We’ don’t get a safe button on Facebook.

‘We’ don’t get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users.

‘We’ don’t change policies which will affect the lives of countless innocent refugees.

This could not be clearer.

I say this with no resentment whatsoever, just sadness.

It’s a hard thing to realise that for all that was said, for all the rhetoric of progressive thought that we have managed to create as a seemingly united human voice, most of us, most of us members of this curious species, are still excluded from the dominant concerns of the ‘world’.

And I know that by ‘world’, I am myself excluding most of the world. Because that’s how power structures work.

I do not matter.

My ‘body’ does not matter to the ‘world’.

If I die, it won’t make a difference.

Again, I say this with no resentment.

That statement is merely a fact. It is a ‘political’ fact, true, but a fact nonetheless.

Maybe I should have some resentment, but I’m too tired. It’s a heavy thing to realise.

I know that I’m privileged enough that when I do die, I will be remembered by friends and loved ones. Maybe this blog and an online presence might even gather some thoughts by people around the world. That’s the beauty of the internet. And even that is an out of reach privilege to too many.

But never before had I understood what Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote when he spoke of the Black body in America. I think there is a story to be told with the Arab body as well. The Native American body. The Indigenous body. The Latin American body. The Indian body. The Kurdish body. The Pakistani body. The Chinese body. And so many other bodies.

The human body is not one. It sure feels that it should be by now. Maybe that in itself is an illusion. But maybe it’s an illusion worth preserving because I don’t know what sort of world we’d be living in if it stays an illusion.

Some bodies are global, but most bodies are local, regional, ‘ethnic’.

My thoughts are with all the victims of the recent horrific attacks, and my thoughts are with all those who will suffer serious discrimination as a result of the actions of a few mass murderers and the failure of humanity’s imagination to see itself as a unified entity.

My only hope is that we can be strong enough to generate the opposite response to what these criminals intended. I want to be optimistic enough to say that we’re getting there, wherever ‘there’ might be.

We need to talk about these things. We need to talk about race. We just have to.

This post originally appeared here.

Joey Ayoub

Joey Ayoub

The author is a blogger, student and traveler. He tweets as @joeyayoub (twitter.com/joeyayoub).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rationalising argument.

    May be Joey Ayoub, many western countries and their people consider life on earth as being far more important than the people of muslim nations who think that heaven is more important.Recommend

  • A very strong write-up.Recommend

  • Rasika

    Paris is a different ball game altogether. People there are not a part of the internecine warfare that Muslims wage among themselves. They were innocent citizens. When indoctrinated terrorists bomb such a city, the outcry is natural. The anger is justified. So please be careful with your comparisons.Recommend

  • Amit Lunia

    Donot Worry, the Indian prime Minister paid tribute to beirut as well as parisRecommend

  • Pakistani

    EXACTLY. Recommend

  • Dracaveli

    This article is true, the west will shed Arab and African blood without hesitation in wars of choice while they go golfing and to the superbowl.

    Condi Rice once declared it “birth pains that they must endure to secure western interest for their region” that tells you all you need to know

    France was an eager beaver to bomb Libya, Mali and Ivory Coast….America was a eager beaver to turn Iraq into a battlefield.

    There is zero value placed on arab lives from the western world they honestly think killing them will ensure our peace, invading them will secure our interest..etc

    It’s modern day Nazism where they want to celebrate war and show drone killings on tv on others,

    Recommend

  • Dracaveli

    that is the most ignorant statement I have ever read online, not since Germany in 1930 has such a view been shared…Iraqi’s where going about their lives and the US decided to turn it upside down…Recommend

  • Ravi Blr

    Iraqis were invading Kuwait. How was that going about their lives?Recommend

  • Shein Ariely

    It is a cognitive failure to put in even terms the one who
    fight the killing terrorists – and the terrorist including LebanonRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    There is nothing to talk about. We get more hurt for the dead in our family than the one in the neighbour. This is how we humans are made it is all a matter for the DNA.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • bigsaf

    So these weren’t innocent victims because they were Muslim or considered to be war mongers? The prejudice…Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Right, this delusional rewrite of Western nations’ own past on where they’ve overlooked life’s importance even today. Just like many Western folks, most people of Muslim nations do believe life is precious. This is just more prejudice.

    http://www.juancole.com/2015/11/terrorism-the-other-religions.html
    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/14/our_terrorism_double_standard_after_paris_lets_stop_blaming_muslims_and_take_a_hard_look_at_ourselves/Recommend

  • Arta

    So you’re saying all Muslims are the same?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    When the Palestinians are killed, the question is why was it not reported; when the Parisians are killed, the question is why was Beirut not reported enough.
    You need the west to care for you but the question is do you care for yourself as much as they do for themselves. You can criticise the west for their unnecessary involvement in Iraq and Syria but to try and shame them in the wake of such a tragedy shows why the middle east will remain middle east after all.
    Btw the world media is no longer the sole property of the west, how much did al Jazeera report the Beirut tragedy.
    Finally, may each one if these souls go to heaven irrespective of whether they died in Beirut or Paris and whether they were Muslims or not. Recommend

  • fze

    What was the crime of Iraq that the world of millions of iraqis were destroyed on one deliberate fabricated lie? The confession of Tony Blair recently to it is the testimony of the fact. However the killings of innocent Parisians is as condemnable as that of Iraqis, Libyans,Lebnanis, Syrians,Afghanis, Pakistanis caught in this undeclared war.Recommend

  • Nana

    Victory has thousand husbands and defeat is an orphan. No one cries for the orphan.Recommend

  • Nero

    How hateful is this comment, especially considering your name – which means a connoisseur of classical music. The people killed in a club in Beirut were as “innocent” as the people killed during a concert in Paris. “People there are not a part of the internecine warfare that Muslims wage among themselves” – Yah right! The reason daesh chose these targets because they supposedly represented the political enemy “kafir” – seemingly Shias supporting Hezbollah in Beirut and white French in Paris. All wars are “internecine”, because all humans are related. Do you check religion/ethnicity/nationality before accepting blood at a blood bank during emergency. No. Because its not even recorded on the pack.Recommend

  • Rasiks

    The thing is that all of you raise your voice only for Muslims. You are not in the least worried for minority communities in PakistanRecommend

  • Dracaveli

    in 1990 Iraq paid in full with the highway of death and ten years of crippling sanctions along with a bloody but failed uprising.

    the US went in to an Iraq pacified and at peace with its neighbors. it was bloody murder they wanted Saddam dead from the onset

    trying to paint jet fighters with UN colors to fool the world Saddam fired first.

    heck even before Bush announced the war had started they launched a precision strike on Saddam himself state sponsored assassination which is illegal and they killed Iraqi cilivians not Saddam .

    this was hours before his speech announcing the war.

    Iraq was bloodthirsty murder done by America wanting to kill ppl doesn’t matter who for 9-11Recommend

  • Mamu

    They were not invading Kuwait at the time US attacked. US was search for Chemical weapons of mass distruction which they never FOUND!Recommend

  • Rasika

    I would not say that. If they were, there would not be so many sects and sub-sects. There would not be so much strife in the Arab world. Bangla Desh would not have severed itself from Pakistan. But I would say this: Everywhere the lumpen elements hold the sway. Either in the name of religion, or in the name of community. The moderates are scared to speak. The state sponsors those lumpen elements, who can range from being plain gundas to dangerous terrorists. Please do not take me wrong. They terrorise Muslims even more than the others. Else, why would Pakistan be a victim of such a massive terrorism?You people think that I am against the Muslims. Quite the opposite. I have read the Koran, your hadiths, the sufi literature, even Omar Khayyam. I have a fair idea of there religion, and its distortions by the religious bigots. But the current day Muslims idolise only the bigots. Especially in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Nana

    From Paris to minority communities in Pakistan (local politics), good way of deflecting the issue. Well, well, well! The minorities in India are how secure, we have seen in recent months and them protesting in Europe on the eve of Modi’s visit shows that they are super prosperous, super satisfied, super looked after folks in India. Right? A matter of pot calling the kettle black. Great!Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Intersect violence among Muslims in going on for a long time. One Beirut bombing is nothing new.
    The genocide on Paris was done on innocent people altogether.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Why are you bringing India here? and so what if a few dozen people are against him. Millions voted him. Doesn’t that matter.Recommend

  • Nana

    Would you stop slapping me in the face all the time. Saying that all my country people idolise bigots (terrorists) is outrageous. Who wants to be like these sick people? Stop painting every one with the same brush. I know not all Hindus are like Shiv Sena or RSS and some do eat cow meat also, how are you going to feel if I dub all Hindus as bullies like Shiv Sena?Recommend

  • Rasika

    I am as much Rasika as you are Nero. There is nothing hateful in what I wrote. There is no reason for you to hyperventilate so emotionally.Recommend

  • Vish

    Funny article. When Muslim countries themselves do not condemn deaths in Muslim countries, not sure why others will bother. The West takes care of itself, that’s why the outcry against Paris. Unlike in most Muslim countries where Muslims are slaughtering each other, lives of their own are valued in the West. That’s why the outcry. Better to ask why life is so cheap in Muslim nations that there is no outcry, even in Muslim countries, against tragedies like Beirut. So why blame the West? More Muslims are killed by Muslims and strangely leave alone an outcry, in countries like Pakistan, drone attacks on their own citizens, by the West are allowed. Recommend

  • Sane

    Why you do not explain Indian involvement in 9/11 as your former Indian security chief said recently. Was Modi there?Recommend

  • Rasika

    I am sorry if my statements caused you so much hurt. That was not my intention. On the other matter, I agree. If we do not cry halt now and stop the stupid outfits like Shiv Sena, we will also go the same way Pakistan has gone. But the solidarity of the intelligentsia in protests gives us hope. But there is no hope if the civil society stops being alert all the time. Ultimately it is the people who matter.Recommend

  • Nana

    I’ve made my point because you have reacted to it. Yes, it is as unnecessary as Rasik’s comment where he/she dragged in Pakistan’s local politics. If only you Indians would know when not to mention us! As to vote a person to power, you can vote a devil as your leader, what do I care.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    You didn’t read the article, you just read the headlines.
    Go back and read the article, your question will be answered.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    devil or deity is a matter of perspective.
    One who is devil for you may be deity for me and vice versa.Recommend

  • Nana

    Do I care?Recommend

  • Ajay

    Sir, please stop playing the ‘victim’ card all the time. Saddam Hussein had committed genocide against Kurds and Shias who were opposing his dictatorial rule. The problem is the strife within the muslim world. The western powers are just fanning it to keep you divided. What’s the role of the rich and prosperous islamic nations in solving the crisis in war ravaged muslim countries or rehabilitating the refugees? Nothing. This is your utopian muslim Ummah of which Pakistan tried to become the military leader? islam is being misutilised by few in power to fool the people and either keep their dictatorship intact or to expand territory. And this includes Pakistan also. Just condemning ISIS in words is not enough. They are just trying to accelerate the process started by you.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    thats why nobody cares about muslims all over the world…muslims cant be hypocritical…you muslims need to condemn Sufferings of hindus and other non muslims otherwise world should unite to punish youRecommend

  • Rajiv

    yes you do.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Yes there is difference that you are part of traitors to our lands in name of NATO and vice versa.Recommend

  • Dracaveli

    Saddam allowed Khomeini to take up residence in Basra in the 70s when the Shah expelled him. he later sought out France to take him off his hands as he was stirring up Shia religious fervor.

    the history of Saddam’s treatment of Kurds and Sunnis dims biased in western media

    his crackdown on Shia groups came after an assassination attempt on his life, that circulated black n white footage of Saddam having members of Iraqi parliament hauled away was also fed with lies most were not killed but let go or given a prison sentence.

    Kurds and Iraqi history have always been on edge, even the British waged war on the Kurds to quash their rebellion in ww2.

    they have had on and off again conflict with iraq well before Saddam was president.

    the US media succeeded in creating a new Hitler so the population could support war…however it was all built on half truths and out right lies like incubator babies and human shredding machines

    try to research every one of the worst accusations made against Saddam and you’ll be surprised in what you learn

    ….however try to research the chemical weapons in Iraq and you’ll hit a stone when there origin traces back to America Recommend

  • Dracaveli

    SHia plotted an assassination and the kurds have always waged a war for Independence of Iraq dating back to ww1 and 2 the British used force to put down the Kurdish rebellion during ww2

    you are being fed half the storyRecommend