Continue to #PrayforParis but don’t forget to #PrayforKenya

Every week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. 

Amid the outpour of empathy and heartache for the attacks on Paris, there were of course the countless statements released by political leaders.

Some expressed grief, and pledged to stand by France. Some went for a more callous approach, and, naturally, there were those that came out swinging against Islam. 

Apart from these statements were well pointed out remarks concerning the media coverage and global support for France compared to that of Kenya where a terrorist attack that killed 147 people at a university in April. 


There is no question that the attacks in Paris were horrific and tragic, but they also brought up a great question of what defines any tragedy as newsworthy. 

The attack in Kenya was done by Islamic-extremist terrorist group Al-Shabaab; the Paris attack was by Islamic-extremist terrorist group ISIS. 

The attack in Kenya left 147 people dead; the attacks in France left 120 dead. The parallel between these two tragedies is stark, but media coverage of the two were anything but equal. 

For Paris, iconic buildings all around the world were lit in the colors of France’s flags. Facebook, like it did when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in the U.S., created a profile picture filter in the colors of France’s flag. The world sent tons of prayers to those in Paris. This reaction to the tragedy was beautiful. It showed that even in the midst of a broken world, we still have humanity. 

 In April, the coverage of Kenya’s attacks, unlike Paris,  was merely a blip in the news cycle. There were no flags, no lights, no nothing. In fact, the Kenya attack received more attention now (seven months later) than it did in April, as people compared its coverage to Paris. This says a great deal about the state of our mindsets and what we view as important. 

While it might seem whiny to stomp our feet about the fact that someone else did not receive as much attention, this points to a bigger problem in which the plights of those in the brown world are excused as being just part of life and those same plights in the western world are taken very seriously. 

Why is it that 147 Kenyans dead is not equivalent to 120 Parisians dead? 

There is no reason to request that the world reduce its support for Paris, rather what we should aim for is to make sure that we stand with all people in their tragedies. 

ISIS and Al-Shabaab are not only out to destroy the Western world, they want to destroy any and everyone who are opposed to their beliefs — this sometimes ends up being Africans, Asians, Europeans, and even other Muslims. 

Islam is not ISIS

American politicians, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, wasted no time in using the Paris tragedy to speak out against admitting Syrian refugees, to emphasize the idea that Western civilization is under attack, and the importance of closing borders.  

There are many politicians that would choose to lump Islam and ISIS, that is even a goal for ISIS itself, but they however are not the same.

There are also many politicians that would characterize the motives of ISIS as being a clash of ideologies — democracy is under attack. 

ISIS is defining their enemies as those that challenge their control, and it is not right to condemn Islam as a whole.