Split-screen mourning: Paris and Tripoli so far apart

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Local broadcaster LBC chose to air a split-screen live shot today of the Charlie Hebdo rally in Paris (left) and a a man hugging a coffin in Tripoli (right), where at least 9 were reportedly killed by a suicide attack at a cafe yesterday.

In both cases, the attackers are believed to be linked to armed militant groups fighting in Syria. In both cases, people going about their daily business were targeted. But in Paris, this is being framed as an attack on humanity and free speech. In Lebanon, it is viewed simply as part of the war next door. In Paris, a million people came out in support. In Beirut, the streets have been relatively quiet.

Why are the two attacks treated so differently? Are those sipping their coffee in Lebanon less important than the cartoonists in France? Where was the world media attention? Where was the analysis? Where were the pundits clamoring for freedom of speech? Why did they not also demand freedom of movement for the people of Tripoli, freedom to have coffee and conversation? Are these lesser freedoms?

Or is it only newsworthy when Muslims attack Christians and Jews? Is it not newsworthy when Muslims attack Muslims?

Finally, how is it that a news channel in a tiny country can spare some grief for an attack in a much larger country, yet so little reciprocal coverage was offered to the Lebanese people who faced a proportionally greater attack on the same day?

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  1. Good point, though, there might be a little bit of “This (that) is Lebanon” in play here. The world isn’t used to it happening in France.

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