A Biased Media – Us vs Them?

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The tragic attack in Nice on Thursday 14th of June, Bastille Day, is one of utter heartbreak. Currently, 84 citizens are dead including 10 children, with 202 more civilians injured. Already the Western world is provoked and sympathetic towards the situation in France, with landmarks such as the Palace of Westminster to be lit up in the French colours to show the British people’s solidarity with the French, and the growing rise of Facebook’s “flagtivism’. This notion of solidarity is something which should be praised, as it highlights humanitarian support.

However, it must be noted that there was a considerable lack of solidarity, flagtivism and landmarks draped in national colours when just as horrendous bomb attacks occurred in places such as Turkey and Iraq. The most recent terrorist attacks in Iraq similarly happened on a national holiday, Eid, and during the holy month of Ramadan. Yet where was the media coverage? The bombings in the capital of Iraq killed over 200 people two weeks ago, but on the media it seemed to be less important than the terrorist attacks that happen here in the West. When media coverage has a greater focus and emphasis on what happens in the West it almost seems to suggest that the deaths of Westerners are far more significant than the deaths of those in Middle Eastern countries.

This is not to say that the tragic deaths of those in Nice are less important than those in the Middle East — they were equally as shocking and devastating. The media now needs to combat such acts of cowardly terror through pushing aside ancient orientalist notions of Us vs Them, and truly take up the belief of “#AllLivesMatter” by reporting with equal concern of those closer to home as well as further away. The only way we can fight such attacks is we support each other in solidarity — ethnicities aside.

Independent Columnist on Turkey

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The Independent (September 3, 2015)

Headline reads “With friends like these, who needs enemies in the Middle East?”

There are a handful of factual errors in this column on the Independent written by Rachel Shabi. Ms Shabi states that in July, Turkey agreed to join the fight against Islamic State “after resisting the move for years”, which is an incorrect statement as international pressure to fight the terrorist group only began to mount one year ago when Islamic State invaded northern Iraq from Syria.

Ms Shabi furthermore claims that Turkey is using their attacks against IS as a pretext to launch attacks against the “Kurds”, which is “the only force effectively combating Isis on the ground.” Whilst it is true that Kurdish groups, specifically the Peshmerga in Iraq and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria are arguably the most competent ground forces fighting against IS, Turkish attacks have thus far been centred on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is based mainly in Turkey and northern Iraq. Turkey has not been launching attacks against the Kurds in general, as she insinuates.

The most glaring factual error is that Ms Shabi claims that Turkey has thus far only launched just one airstrike against IS. It is certainly true that Turkey’s fight against IS has been limited, especially in comparison to its fight against the PKK, but Turkey has conducted numerous airstrikes against IS since July 24th. Indeed, even in the period between July 24th and July 25th, there were three waves of airstrikes against IS conducted by the Turkish airforce in that period. Turkey only recently joined in on air raids conducted by the coalition against IS, on August 29th, but Turkey has been conducting its own airstrikes against the group sporadically since July 24th.