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Ukraine's war unleashes flood of racism by media and politicians against Arab war victims

Correspondents and politicians repeatedly made racist comments in referring to Ukraine's war and victims, while referring to those from the Middle East. Image is a screenshot from a video of CBS senior foreign correspondent made one such comment.

Amidst the escalating violence in Ukraine to which eyes of the world are glued, correspondents from Western and prestigious media outlets have irked the Arab and Middle Eastern audience with their racist remarks. The commentary involved expressing sympathy for Ukrainian victims of the war, and shock about the images of people because they seem more “European,” and are more “civilized” than Middle Eastern victims of war.

On February 27, Syrian Twitter user @WardFurati88 posted a thread compiling all the racial and discriminatory comments made by correspondents of global media brands as they covered the war. His thread drew thousands of reactions since: over 11,500 retweets, over 1,500 quoted retweets and over 41,300 likes.

If you are a Muslim, or Middle Eastern, or African, and wonder why is our blood perceived like water flooding the world?? In fact, water has environmental organisations that try to stop its waste… Follow these tweets which may answer your question, by reviewing coverage and comments over the war in Ukraine.

He began with the comments made by CBS senior foreign correspondent Chris D’Agata, in which he expressed his sympathy with Ukrainians, who are more European than Iraq and Afghanistan. Ward quoted the correspondent with slight variation.

Let's start with CBS’ correspondent who spoke of Ukrainians in shelters, and was overtaken by emptions and said: “This place is not Iraq, nor Afghanistan. This is a civilized European country. You would not expect, nor want, for something like to happen to it”.
This sums up how he perceives you. It is natural for you to spend your day running away from raids: You are not European.

Secondly, he referred to the comments made by David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine’s former deputy general prosecutor, on the BBC. Ward, although he mistook the official for a BBC reporter, described the essence of what was said in this tweet:

Now, with the correspondent of the BBC who got emotional while on air, and justified this as saying: “I apologize.. but what is happening is emotion-provoking, because I am seeing European people with blue eyes and blond hair… children killed… by Putin missiles everyday”. This needs no commentary.

Since Syria's war broke out in 2011, more than 6.6 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes and another 6.7 million people remain displaced inside the country, according to UN figures. As thousands took the life-threatening journey of crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe and start over, European countries have set up laws, policies, and barriers to stop them from entering their countries, leaving hundreds of families in impoverished camps, exposed to the elements and deprivation.

Ward then relayed the words of a presenter on Al Jazeera English:

Now with the presenter of Al Jazeera English who commented on the crowding of Ukrainians as they board a train to flee the war, he said “What is compelling… look at how they're dressed.. These are not people trying to flee their countries in the Middle East and Africa. They look like any European family.” This is what really matters: they're European.

Moving to the print media, Ward quotes — with slight deviation — an op-ed by Daniel Hannan in the British newspaper The Telegraph:

Let's read what UK's Telegraph  says: “They look  like us, which makes this shocking. Ukraine is a European country. It's people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts and vote in free elections, and have uncensored press. War is no longer happening in poor and remote countries. War could happen to anyone.

Shifting to politicians’ remarks, Ward outlined comments made by the Bulgarian premier:

Here, the Bulgarian prime minister frankly says: “Ukrainian refugees are not from the refugees we're used to, and so we'll welcome them. They're smart and educated Europeans, and have no obscure pasts, like the possibility of being terrorists.

Ward's following tweet evoked another argument raised by many Arabs who contrasted the West's hailing of Ukrainian resistance against Russian occupation with the West's condemnation of Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. He wrote:

Since the Bulgarian PM mentioned terrorist, lets read how the New York Post described an Ukrainian soldier as ‘heroic’ after blowing himself up on a bridge to prevent Russian advances.

He then flagged Western government's hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to immigration, as the European countries tightened control over borders to restrict entry of war refugees on the basis of fear that they were involved in fighting in their homelands.

What about “immigrants”… I mean people coming in from outside the borders of the country to fight with its people against invaders… Here were read the comments of the British Prime Minister in which he encouraged calls for those who want to fight in Ukraine, including the British, as well as the statement by Ukrainian president on establishing a platoon of foreign volunteers.

Ward also pointed out how accommodating and tolerant world organizations are of the forms of solidarity expressed to Ukrainians, versus those expressed for Palestinians as subjects of Israeli invasion. He referred to Egyptian football superstar Mahmoud Abu Trika, whose expression of solidarity with Gaza as it was pounded by Israeli raids in 2008 got him reprimanded by football authorities.

What about [a football] player who lifted his T-shirt in a game after scoring a goal, to reveal “No War in Ukraine” which he had written underneath. Will FIFA tell him what it told Abu Trika previously when he lifted his T-shirt after scoring a goal, to show a message of “Sympathize with Gaza”?

Ward then went on to analyze how global entities rushed to boycott Russia, blocking its participation in all fields, rendering it an outcast, while Moscow continued to participate in and host international events even as it played a key role in the war in Syria, which has killed thousands, displaced many more, fragmented families, and left the country in shambles.

Over the following days, Ward continued to build on the thread, with the help of his followers, adding more examples of how the Western world, its politicians, and media, clearly differentiate between who is entitled to the rights of peace and life based on color and race.

As Twitter flooded with updates about the racism with which African and Middle Eastern residents of Ukraine were treated as they too tried to flee the country, and which the UN admitted has taken place, Arab and African users debated the treatment their nations have received from the West during periods of distress.

One Twitter user wrote:

Commenting on the terms “civilized” and “developing,” which several racist comments used as indicators for who is worthy of humane treatment, one Twitter user wrote:


 

For more information about this topic, see our special coverage Russia invades Ukraine.

 

 

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