In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels Tuesday morning, in which at least 34 people died and another 198 were injured, international media attention has been firmly focused on the fallout—and rightly so.
But like in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last year, the coverage raises an uncomfortable question about which attacks the American media chooses to talk about: Why do international tragedies involving white Europeans get more coverage than stories about people from other, less westernized parts of the world? Just this month, there have been two separate terrorist attacks in Turkey: one on Sunday in Istanbul, and another a few days before that in the city of Ankara. Last month, terrorist group Boko Haram brutally attacked a village in Nigeria and killed at least 65 people, injuring more than 130.
Those attacks were covered by major international outlets with reporters on the ground. But many publications (including Fusion) didn't dedicate several stories to what happened, or dissect the implications the way they will about today's attack in Brussels. Those attacks did not set the news agenda for the day, let alone the week.
While we look to Brussels this week, here are some of the other attacks that, comparatively, slipped under the radar just this year:
Ankara, Turkey, March 14
A car bomb detonated in a busy public square killed at least 37 people in the Turkish capital of Ankara a few weeks ago. Kurdish separatists claimed responsibility for the attack, the Washington Post reported.
The international lack of response to that attack was clear to those on the ground. "It is very easy to look at terror attacks that happen in London, in New York, in Paris and feel pain and sadness for those victims, so why is it not the same for Ankara? Is it because you just don't realise that Ankara is no different from any of these cities?" wrote Ankara resident James Taylor in a widely-shared Facebook post:
Istanbul, Turkey, March 19
On a street filled with shops and cafes in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, a suicide bomber killed five people on Sunday. The attacker may have had ties to the Islamic State terrorist group, according to The Associated Press, but no one has claimed responsibility outright for the attack.
With two Americans among the casualties on this attack, there was some coverage from American media, but it was limited:
"On Twitter, people argue about whether the western media is covering Istanbul enough. To us, it is true, Middle Eastern lives are cheap," writer Molly Crabapple wrote in the Guardian this week.
Dalori Village, Nigeria, January 31
At the end of January, the Boko Haram extremist group attacked a village in northern Nigeria. They set houses on fire and killed at least 65 people, burning some of them alive.
Compared to coverage of Brussels, this terrorist attack was met with near-silence from the American press.
The list of violent incidents we haven't given enough weight to could go on: Baga, Nigeria, where 2,000 people died in January last year; Garissa University College in Kenya, where 148 died in April.; Beirut, Lebanon, where just days before the Paris attacks last year, 43 people were killed. Beirut-based writer Elie Faras poignantly expressed his frustration at the lack of response from the world:
When my people were blown to pieces on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, the headlines read:explosion in Hezbollah stronghold, as if delineating the political background of a heavily urban area somehow placed the terrorism in context. When my people died on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, world leaders did not rise in condemnation. There were no statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people.
There's no straightforward answer to how and why we cover some tragedies more than others, but it's worth taking a second to remember that these lives meant just as much as those we lost in Paris, in Brussels, and in San Bernardino.