Terrorism leaves behind not only destruction and debris, but many times it can also unveil shocking facts that fill us with sadness and pain. One of those facts is that when it comes to developing and Islamic Arab countries, the West loses its objectivity and forgets its usual promises of justice and equality. The Western media is not just a witness to this moral dysfunction, but also a participant in it.
This article is not a requiem mourning injustices, nor is it the cry of a traumatized person suffering from the loss of rights and the burying of truth. This article is a summary of a serious study published by the American magazine “The Nation” regarding the lack of objectivity in the Western mass media coverage of the terrorist incidents last year.
The study revealed the blatant bias of the Western media in their coverage of terrorist operations. It highlighted their approach toward incidents that take place in Western countries compared to the limited interest, and perhaps the total disregard, shown when a developing nation is the victim.
The study demonstrated this media imbalance with specific numbers, and also revealed that terrorist operations are located mostly in Muslim, Arab and developing countries, and not in the West. Therefore, most of the victims are also Arab or Muslim. The study was limited to the coverage of terrorism in print media, i.e., printed and electronic newspapers, and limited the scope of its work to just 2015, which witnessed 334 terrorist incidents around the world. According to the study, Nigeria was at the forefront of countries suffering from terrorism, with 3193 deaths — more deaths than the attacks of Sept. 11 in the United States. The second state was Iraq, which suffered 708 deaths; then 346 dead Syrians, followed by 309 Afghanis, 298 Egyptians, 288 Yemenis, and 288 Pakistanis — the list goes on and on.
The crucial point here is that last year, Western countries have experienced only 21 terrorist incidents that have killed 246 people in total. This means that the victims of terrorism from all Western countries combined do not outnumber the victims from one single country in the developing world.
The press coverage of these terrorist incidents is the most intriguing thing about this study, for it reveals the painful duality of the media’s treatment of the value of human life in the West compared to other countries of the world. The aforementioned figures testify to this dire fact. The famous attack in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people received extensive media coverage — more than any other incident in the Arab or Islamic world, as more than 21,000 online headlines tackled the trauma that happened that day. Ironically, this incident coincided with two terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Beirut; the first of them did not surpass 392 press headlines, while the figure in the Lebanese case reached 1292 headlines.
The same thing happened with another incident — the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015, which killed 12 people. The magnitude of the press coverage of the attack has reached more than 22,000 headlines. On the same day, 38 people were killed in an explosion in Yemen and the media coverage was limited to 565 newspaper reports. If anything, this explains the enormous difference in media attention for any attack in the West compared to any terrorist operation in any other country, regardless of the numbers of victims.
Indeed, the global media coverage remains biased toward the West, even if there were no victims. The evidence, according to the study, is the coverage of two specific attacks: the first was the incident covered in the Oignies region of France in August. The number of news headlines about this attack exceeded the number of news reports about the Yemen explosions by more than a dozen times. The other attack was in London during December, and its coverage was five times larger than coverage of the Yemen blast, although both of the European incidents did not result in any deaths.
The overall average number of victims counted by the study displays the size of media bias. This bias amounts to a deception by exaggerating the plague of terrorism faced by the West while the bulk of victims are Arabs and Muslims (if we exclude Nigeria). The numbers listed by the study claim that while the average number of victims of attacks in the West are 12 people, the figure rises in the case of developing countries (including Arab and Muslim countries), to 22 people per operation, though this does not refer to the number of victims in each operation, which is achieved by dividing the total number of victims by the number of all terrorist operations.
The media coverage has shown an imbalance when it comes to fair attention, with the average number of headlines about terrorist incidents in developing countries being 1305. In the case of the West, this average increases drastically to reach 7788 headlines for each operation. This means that the number of headlines regarding victims in developing countries is six times less than that of Western countries.
Based on the data about media coverage in Western countries, it seems that the number of victims in the West is 11 times greater than the number of victims in developing nations! With that, we can conclude that the destiny of developing countries is to remain oppressed — whether they are alive or dead.