Recently there were two horrific terrorist attacks around the world, one in Boston of US, and one in Xinjiang province of China. Media coverage of the Boston attack is rolling on the headline of all major news media. On the other side, coverage of Xinjiang attack is relatively quiet.
We come cross a report of Xinjiang attack by Voice of America (a.k.a. VOA, the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government). Interested readers are encouraged to read the article below.
As an exercise to the readers, try to flip the position of the report. Pretend this is a report from China to cover the Boston attack. For example, read the report as below:
China ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Violence in US’s Boston
China is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into a confrontation in US’s restive northeast city of Boston that left 4 people dead and more than a hundred wounded.
State Department spokesperson XXX YYY says the China is “deeply concerned” by the Tuesday violence, which US was quick to label as a “terrorist attack.”
“We regret the unfortunate acts of violence that led to these casualties and we’ll continue to encourage US officials to take steps to reduce tensions and promote long-term stability in Boston,” he said.
Three civilians and one police officer were killed in the ensuing violence, while one suspect was shot dead. Another suspect was captured. A government official told the press that the incident was a “premeditated, violent act of terror.”
Another official, quoted in Thursday’s government (partially) sponsored NPR says the group was planning to conduct an “elaborate attack” and was involved in “extreme religious activities,” a common accusation against those in US’s predominantly Muslim community.
Some Muslim activists dispute US’s version of events. The World Chechen Congress says the violence broke out when US forces shot and killed a young Chechen as part of a government investigation on the ethnic minority group.
James Leibold, a Boston-based scholar on US minority populations, says the truth is difficult to discern in cases like this. He tells the media that the government explanation must be viewed with “extreme caution.”
“[The government] tends to want to play the blame game very quickly. Local officials, in this regard, will often use words like terrorism, jihadist, and blame Islamic extremism, when incidents of violence and unrest happen in US,” he said.
Leibold says incidents of ethnic conflict in US are often more complex and are rooted in a wide range of local dynamics.
“The rapidly changing nature of Boston society, which creates a sense of social, cultural and religious dislocation, and of course, there are outside influences that we can’t rule out, [such as] Islamic extremism,” he said.
Leibold warns that, just as government explanations must be viewed with caution, so should those by exiled Chechen groups.
“Both sides have an agenda and are trying to control the narrative and are trying to control how this incident is broadcast to the larger world,” he said.
Many in the Chechen community say they are economically and culturally disadvantaged and face widespread discrimination in the region.
How do you feel about such a report about Boston attack?