If you've been on any social media or news sights recently you will have seen the horrific images and videos of Notre Dame ablaze.
It was to no surprise that some like Glenn Beck jumped on the train of accusations while others jumped onto foolish conspiracy theories. Most of which came from places of evil in terms of Anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia.
Unfortunately, all of that was expected. So was the millions that were immediately put forth in restorations and rebuilding. The loss of some of the seven-century-long history of Notre Dame caused more shock and grief than that of the nine-century-long history of Masjid Al-Aqsa. The flames of Masjid Al-Aqsa were overshadowed by those of Notre Dame, both in actual size and in damage. This is in no way, shape or form trying to diminish or overlook the devastating and unfortunate results of the fire of Notre Dame but rather bring about a lesson in the biases in media and a reminder of unity.
Masjid Al-Aqsa is the third holiest mosque for Muslims around the world and is one of the central issues of the current ongoing dispute between Palestine and Israel. Much like the Cathedral of Notre Dame, it holds a lot of religious importance and value. However, what we're obviously missing in the news right now is the fire in Masjid Al-Aqsa. This can be attributed to many reasons. One is that the majority of the population here in the U.S. and in Europe, both of which dominate our media feed, are religiously affiliated with the cathedral or historically in awe of the cultural and social impact that the cathedral has on western civilization. Not to mention Notre Dame hits closer to home not only in terms of geography but in terms of being located in an economically stable country. Masjid Al-Aqsa, on the other hand, is located farther from us geographically and economically. We almost assume that because of the constant bombings and catastrophes going on there that it is inevitable that some damage has or will be done to holy sites.
As one Twitter user put it best:
Because we live in the west with a majority Christian population majority of society was able to connect more to what was happening in Paris. To be completely honest I had no idea either that Masjid Al-Aqsa was on fire the same day. Going to show how numb we as a society have become to catastrophe in lesser established places around the world. Some people like myself were in shock that the fire at Al-Aqsa went unnoticed.
But there were equally more people who realized that at the end of the day, whether Muslim or Christian, everybody was affected in one way or another. A part of me believes that everything happens for a reason, to teach us a lesson. Instead of becoming upset over the fact that one site was given more attention than the other we can take this tragedy and allow it to bring the two communities closer in understanding and respect for one another. While the flames may have engulfed pieces of both worlds, what arises from the ashes is what we make of the situation.
What I hope you take from this article is that it is important to pray for both, acknowledge both and let this be a reminder that all people regardless of religion are people in the end and can be affected by similar situations. It is our job, however, to acknowledge this underlying humanity and apply it to all circumstances in which we feel that religious biases overshadow the situation.