For the past few weeks, reports of Manchester and London have flooded the news, and rightfully so. It is vital that the proper reparations be made unto cities harmed, and that awareness be spread of them. It is vital to share condolences and to stand together.
Why did the loss of Afghan lives not garner the same response?
On May 31st, only a few days into Ramadan, a truck bomb hit Kabul, killing at least 90 and injuring over 400. The bomb was hidden in a water delivery truck, and the truck entered an area in proximity to the Afghan presidential palace, Western embassies, and numerous government institutions. Civilians, who comprise the majority of casualties, filled the area, many being children and adults for whom it was rush hour.
Subsequent to the attack, all roads in the area were sealed off, and Afghan security and helicopters were made present. Ambulances and emergency aides, relatives, and hundreds of others immediately worked to defuse the situation, whether by donating blood or searching for missing individuals. The Taliban has denied activity in the attack, but it is suspected that an affiliated group is responsible.
The problem with the coverage of this tragedy occurs both in its infrequency and its framing; like the above, we receive a list of facts. Little is done to humanize the incident. Between 2004 and 2013, approximately half of all terrorist attacks — and 60% of the fatalities attributed to them — have occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. Within that time frame, the UK has encountered 400 attacks and the US has experienced 131. Iraq has faced 12,000 attacks. Overwhelmingly, it is the Muslim population that has suffered most.
Unfortunately, we don’t seem to associate mourning with their deaths, nor relatability with their lives. The New York Times covers Manchester with an emotional series of victim profiles, interviewing families and garnering personal, heartfelt remarks from them. Of Kabul, they write: “In different corners of the city, workers and relatives dug graves for the ones who, with life having become a game of chance, just were not lucky.” Our news treats their lives as ones of chance, for whom survival is a matter of luck, and lesser safety is mere fate. We do not know their names nor their stories.
In a post-9/11 world, we’ve lost sight of the value for what are, unequivocally, human lives. Their children, their families, and their experiences are ones that demand greater attention and understanding. Keep Kabul in conversation. The Afghan lives do not deserve lesser coverage, nor lesser respect, than European ones.