Let us suppose that a group of Islamic militants, armed with machine guns and rocket launchers would start firing in Montrouge neighbourhood in Paris. No warning. No mercy. No discrimination.
Let us suppose that their attack would leave thousands of bodies behind, spread all over, in all position, with terror frozen in their pupils, silently lying in pools of blood, among the agonizing screams of the injured ones, in an apocalyptic atmosphere. Too many of them to be visible to the eye, too painful to look at them. Now, let us suppose that this carnage is ignored by the entire media. As if this atrocity, comparable without any hesitation with the crimes of September 11, 2001, never happened, as if all those thousands of Parisians, whose lives were crushed heinously, never existed, as if their bodies rotting on the sidewalk have no importance in this world.
The attention of the entire globe is focused on only one event: an armed attack upon the editorial team of a newspaper in the Nigerian city of Baga, resulted in the murdering of 12 persons. TV stations devote hours in a row to this event, publications all over the world print front-page articles covering the tragedy in Nigeria, analysts debate its global impact, over 50 presidents of various states join one another in a solidarity march on the dusty roads of Baga and 3.7 million Nigerians sing the hymn dedicated to the 12 victims in unison.
At the same time, in France, approximately 10,000 Parisians abandon their homes and lives and run away in a terror from the attackers who overtake entire neighbourhoods and extend their terror on surfaces that are larger and larger, imposing their law, religion and politics by murder and crushing by means of limitless violence concepts such as liberty, democracy, equality, respect, peace or love.
But something is inaccurate with this picture, right? The reality is actually the other way around. When the entire world was keeping an eye on the results of last week’s tragedy in Paris, thousands of corpses were lying spread all over, among the trees, in the Nigerian locality Baga, in the aftermath of an attack by the terrorist group Boko Haram. A scene out of a nighrmare, an event described by Amnesty International as “the biggest massacre” in the history of the group. To top the cruelty, most of the corpses lying in the forests of the region belonged to children; women and elderly who were unable to run away fast enough from the insurgents firing machine guns and rocket launchers at them. “We only heard shootings of fire weapons, explosions, screams and ‘Allah Akbar’ yells by Boko Haram fighters”, Yanaye Grema, a local fisherman declared for AFP. “On a distance of five kilometres, I only stepped on corpses until I reached the village Malam Karanti, which was deserted and burnt”, he declared.
“The massacre made by the Boko Haram terrorists in Baga is enormous. Nobody was able to take care of the corpses or even the heavily injured, who perhaps died by now”, Muhammad Abba Gava, spokesperson of civilians who joined in a group of defence against the terrorist organisation pointed out. On his turn, Musa Alhaji Bukar, administrative leader of the Borno region, declared, referring to the scene that was impossible to endure: “The city no longer exists, it was completely burnt and all of it is full of bodies”. “The bodies are lying all over the forest, but it is not safe to go and bury them”, he added.
Another voice blotted out by the “Je suis Charlie” chant was that of Nigeria’s Catholic Archbishop, Ignatius Kaigama. He pointed out that the massacre in his country was completely ignored while the attacks in Paris gained media coverage all over the world. “It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But… we seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories… with such impunity. We need that spirit to be spread around,” he said. “Not just when it [an attack, editor’s note] happens in Europe, but when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, in Cameroon”, the priest declared for BBC.
But who cares today about an armed incident in an African country? This sort of thing “does not sell”, “makes no rating” and has no “good image”. It does not “gain views” in today’s media and in the world of modern marketing.
Is it correct to ignore that an “ordinary” life was taken? Is an assault more important than the other? Is a terrorist more ferocious than the other? Is a massacre more front page worthy than the other?
Regardless of whether it was a caricaturist for Charlie Hebdo, a Parisian police officer, a Nigerian agriculture worker or a grandfather in a village of Baga, the victim of a terrorist assault is the victim of an attack over the entire humanity and it would be humane that the press would grant it equal and impartial attention.