Is The Jakarta, Indonesia, ISIS Terrorist Attack’s Death Toll The Only Reason There’s No ‘Pray For Paris’-Level Response?

A recent ISIS terrorist attack in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a death toll of eight, has received a relatively subdued global response as opposed to the Paris shooting that took place in November, reported BBC News.

Social media users and some voices in the media have begun to speak out against the lack of an outpour of public support for Indonesia, with many wondering why the “Pray for Jakarta” hashtag isn’t reaching the same ubiquity.

Many will remember similar criticism about several terrorist attacks that had taken place in the lead-up to the tragedy in Paris. Nearly a year prior to the Indonesia incident, one particularly bloody one in Kenya suddenly became a center of international conversation — after ISIS hit Paris.

Seven months prior to the mass murder in France, a university in the African country suffered a brutal shooting and bombing that left 147 dead. While it was certainly still an international news event, it did not receive nearly the amount of public attention or international response. Many decried it as an example of a Western-centric viewpoint, one that, in this case, put a different value on human lives based on their nationality and the setting’s perceived security.

A similar sentiment has started to emerge about Jakarta, one that has critics asking, “Why so much less outrage when ISIS hits Indonesia?” One possible explanation is the mere comparison in carnage. Terrorists managed to kill eight citizens in total in the Indonesian capital, leaving just under two dozen others injured. In contrast, the Islamic state’s efforts in Paris had a death toll of 130 and left more than 350 injured.

Jakarta and ISIS together Indonesia attack

In the comparison between the Kenya and Paris attacks, some argued that there were several reasons for the distinct responses. ISIS was a common enemy of both the United States and France, as opposed to by the Al-Shabab. Furthermore, the assault was directed toward what is perhaps the U.S.’s biggest ally and also a city Americans are familiar with. At least the former could be said for the Jakarta attack; though Indonesia is, culturally, more distant from both countries.

Still, Jakarta has just found itself facing the same threat as the U.S. It seems an opportune moment to show support for the Asian Pacific nation, yet Judith Jacob, an expert on Indonesian extremist groups, tweeted that doing so might actually play into ISIS’ intentions.

In Foreign Policy, Benjamin Soloway wrote that it wasn’t even clear that citizens were the targets in Indonesia and that its mastermind Bahrun Naim is actually the head of Katibah Nusantara — the nation’s own extremist group that is “linked” to ISIS. That led Jacob, who also spoke with FP, to caution conflating the terrorist attacks.

“This was a brazen attack in Central Jakarta during lunch hours, but the casualty figures remain astoundingly low. It didn’t have the same level of indiscriminate firing that we saw in Istanbul or Paris… But it still begs the question: How much has this been an Indonesian jihadist capitalizing on events that have happened recently in Paris to further the ambitions of an inward-looking jihadist movement within Indonesia?”

Jakarta terrorist attacks courtesy of ISIS

Moreover, the publication also noted that the Jakarta terrorist attack might have had more to do with police crackdowns on extremist groups in Indonesia than the global mission of ISIS itself. Around 16 domestic terror suspects have arrested in the past month.

[Image via AP Images]