Earlier this month, Kenya was rocked with a terror attack that left 148 people dead. Of those, 142 were students.
The brutal massacre happened April 2 at Garissa University College in the eastern part of the country close to the porous Somali border.
Members of the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility — calling it revenge for Kenyan troops fighting Somali rebels in 2011. This same group gained international attention in 2013 when they brutally killed 67 people at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.
At Garissa, a handful of militants stormed the campus. After separating Muslims from Christians, they killed the Christians execution style.
The New York Times called it the worst terror attack against the nation since 1998 when the US embassy was bombed in the capital. Yet, many felt the atrocity did not garner as much attention as other international terrorist attacks. The frustration played out on social media with tweets like this
Terrorism theorist Max Abrahms, from Northeastern University said there is no one explanation, but thinks there is an element of racism at play.
“In the Garissa University attack, both the perpetrator and the victims are black and that may help to explain why the international community paid relatively little attention,” he said. “Another explanation is I believe there is probably weak local media coverage within Kenya . We didn’t actually watch in real time and that’s different say than in the case of Charlie Hebdo. ”
The twelve French cartoonists were mourned from every corner of the globe in January. In that very same week, hundreds were massacred in the city of Baga in Nigeria. With little attention, Nigerians used the only tool that seemed effective — a hashtag — #JeSuisNigerian.
And now Kenyans, in hopes their loved ones will never be forgotten are sharing pictures of when the victims were alive using the hashtag “#147isnotjustanumber,” a reference to the initial victim count.
Since the attack, the Kenyan government vowed they will respond in the severest way possible. Last week they bombed two Al-Shabab training camps.