Update (23 Mar 2016):After a lot of feedback from people about this post, I realized that I owe the reader an update and an explanation. Namely, I am adamently opposed to any form of violence. I sympathize and support the peace loving citizens of Turkey and any other country for that matter in their struggle against terror, whether its coming from terrorists or (in the case of Turkey) their current government. That being said, I want to emphasize that the this post examines WHY "Je suis Ankara" did not make the same buzz as "Je suis Paris" according to my personal opinion. Apologies to anyone who took this text out of context by suggesting that I hold a grudge against the Turkish people. So, without further ado:
I started writing this article last night (21st March) and since I was too tired to finish it, I left it for today. Upon waking up today, I saw the terrible news about the Brussels airport bombing, which made me angry beyond words and also reinforced my resolve to give my insight of a particularly annoying statement that has been circulating around social media.
Namely, in the wake of the terror bombings in Ankara and Istanbul after that, there has been a growing number of social media posts on social media, as well as questions directed at me from people close to me. These questions and posts are of the flavour:
"You were 'je suis Paris' will you also be 'je suis Ankara' ?"
In other words, will we see the same amount of sympathy and media coverage for Ankara as we did for the terrorized cities in EU?
I do understand that the reason for this line of posts and questionning, is evidently the fact that hype created on social and other media for the bombings in Turkey was considerably lower that that of the Paris attacks. This is a fact! What I do not understand (well actually I do and will share it) is why most of the more informed population are persisting to neglect that they know exactly why this is occuring - and using the ignorance of the less informed as messengers (via shares and retweets) to parade a political statement that has nothing to do with the actual cause of the apparent downplaying of the tragedies in Turkey.
Let me start by saying that regular European media like TV and papers, did actually fully cover the events in Turkey as they unfolded. In fact, before today, Istanbul was still amongst headlines in most cases. So, what happened with the social media, governed by ordinary people?
I will start by telling you a short story about a childhood experience of mine.
The Guy With The Crackers
I was about 15 or 16 years old in my second year of high school. My grandfather had just passed away, so there was a lot of commotion at my parents place. I had to get out for some air.
Outside were these four kids, about 15 years old, one of which had a bunch of short fuse crackers in his hand. Short fuse crackers are small gunpoweder filled devices used to make a small bang as in to scare people.
This guy was picking on a bunch of other kids (couple of years younger than him) resting with their bikes. He would light one and toss it towards them. When they blew they would startle the kids on their bikes. He threw at them about 4 crackers. The kids on the bikes were constantly ignoring him because they were afraid to get into a conflict since the cracker guy and his friends were obviously bullies.
At one point, he lights a fifth cracker. This time something bad happened. The cracker happened to have a defective fuse which caused it to explode in his hand just as he lit it. The combustion was enough to rip open the pointer and middle fingers of his right hand! He was in agony for about a minute, until the guy from the shop nereby came out with some hand paper wrapped his fingers after which the three friends escorted their cracker kid friend away in pain.
I was feeling sorry for the kids on their bikes, up to that point. But for the cracker kid, I was more shocked than I was sorry for. I was afraid for him but can't say that I actually felt any sympathy.
The moral of the story here is: if you play with fire, you will get burnt. However, the point I want to make here actually, is the fact that Turkey, governed by an autocratic borderline-extremist dictator Erdogan, is playing with fire. Erdogan is playing with fire in Turkey's name, by his indirect support for ISIS.
This indirect support comes in the form of his perpetual agression against the Kurdish people, one of the main enemies of ISIS, as well as his evident dislike of Israel, the reasons for which point directly to his support for turning the state of Turkey into an islamic state - hence radicalization.
Fortunately, just as the liberal citizens of Turkey are aware of this, so is the population outside of Turkey and EU in particular. So, when one utters the words "Je suis X", one is actually wanting to identify not only with the victims and the people of X, but with the ideals and freedoms that X stands for.
In the case of Paris, these ideals are the well known: liberte egalite fraternite. These are ideals which resonate positively to the human mindset. However, in the case of Ankara, given its current borderline radical political agenda and the recent civil unrests there, it is more than obvious that supporting such an agenda means supporting the infringement of basic human rights to say the least.
This is why social media did not pick on "Je suis Ankara" with the same pace and hype as it did for Paris or Eu in general for that matter.