Tributes To Nigeria After Suicide Bombings Are Heartfelt & Make An Important Point
On Wednesday, March 16, two female suicide bombers disguised themselves as men and went to a mosque in the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri in the northeast of Nigeria. There, they blew themselves up, killing at least 22 people, according to the New York Times. At the time of the attack, the mosque was crowded with people doing their morning prayers. Since that tragedy, there have been a number of tributes to Nigeria from people empathizing with the country's loss from around the world.
Two rescuers, who preferred not to be named, spoke to CNN about the bombers. They said, "The badly damaged bodies of two women in men's clothing identified as the bombers were found in the mosque during rescue work." They went on to say that one of the women joined congregants inside the mosque. She blew herself up around 5:30 a.m. The second woman activated her suicide bomb minutes later, as people fled to get out of the mosque.
This part of Nigeria has been particularly rife with violence due to the presence of the extremist Islamic group called Boko Haram. Just last October, more than 20 people were killed in a similar attack at an area mosque.
In response to the deadly attack, many took to Twitter to show their support for the country by using the hashtag #PrayForNigeria.
Please pray for the victims & families of the latest bombing in Nigeria. #PrayForNigeria— sυвaн ❂ (@SubahAhmed) March 24, 2016
Others on social media noted the discrepancy between the amount of coverage of this attack and the one in Brussels, Belgium, last week that killed 35 people.
There was a bombing in Nigeria and at a professional soccer game in Iraq. Yet, all last week, they were talking about the one in Belgium.— tahisha. (@miixtapechiick) March 28, 2016
The suicide bombing of a mosque in Nigeria not getting much MSM coverage? Maybe it doesn't fit in with the 'Islam is the problem' narrative— Celestine (@CelestineBee) March 25, 2016
at least 24 people died in a suicide bombing in a mosque in nigeria. why is this not going viral?— ♡ أميرة العشي (@kanafaprincess) March 25, 2016
Attack in a predominantly white country: instant international coverage— Rei (@reidungarapick) March 24, 2016
Attack in a predominantly black country: "what bombing?" #Nigeria
Confusingly, a disturbing photo of burned bodies was also widely spread on social media with the hashtag #PrayForNigeria. People who helped the photo circulate claimed that it was of children burned by Boko Haram. While Boko Haram has carried out many acts of violence against children, this photo was misattributed. According to BBC World Service, it is most likely of the aftermath of a tanker explosion in 2010.
While this mistake underscores the precaution one must take in getting news from social media, it also underscores the issue of media coverage (or lack thereof) for this region. It is hard to find images and even headlines of what is going on in Nigeria, and without reputable news stations taking on these stories, it's easy for fakes to emerge.
Despite help from neighboring countries and the United States military, Nigeria is having trouble driving out the terrorist groups that are threatening its people. Now that the attacks are becoming more frequent and the influence of groups like Boko Haram is spreading, more and more countries are joining a task force to help eliminate this elusive threat. After this attack, according to The New York Times, Benin will join the coalition of countries aiming to put an end to the violence.