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Lebanese UConn Student Says Media Overlooked Beirut Bombings

It’s been a week since terrorist attacked the cities of Beirut and Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks. News coverage of both these attacks has not been the same.

"The media failed to recognize and respect what happened in Lebanon," said Peter Atallah, President of the Lebanese Student Association at UConn. Atallah wants to raise awareness on campus about the attacks in Beirut.

One idea Atallah and the other students have is to paint a big rock that sits in the middle of the UConn campus.

"Anyone can paint the rock," he said. "So we plan on painting the rock with the Lebanese flag and maybe a description about how the media didn’t even care about Lebanon."

Atallah was born in Connecticut. His parents came to the U.S. almost 30 years ago. They wanted to get away from the civil war which devastated Lebanon.

Last Thursday, a residential area of Beirut was hit by a double suicide bomb attack. At least 43 people were killed and more than 200 were injured.

When he first heard about the bombings, Atallah said he was afraid.

"Who’s to say they’re not going to kill more civilians in Lebanon," he said. "Even invade the country. You never know, so fear. What’s my primary, biggest reaction? Fear."

He said these types of attacks are not unheard of in Lebanon. The nation borders Syria and Israel, which puts it right in the center of the major conflicts in the region.

Last year, there was another double bombing near an Iranian cultural center. At least five people were killed and dozens more were wounded. A group that’s an off-shoot of Al Qaeda took responsibility for that attack.

Atallah said it doesn’t matter how often these bombings occur. People are being killed. He said he became disappointed when the world didn’t react until Paris was attacked.

"Civilian deaths, whether it be in Lebanon, whether it be in France, Africa, anywhere — they’re still humans," he said. "How can this problem be stopped overall? Not just in Lebanon, not just in Paris. Because Isis isn’t going to stop here, they’re clearly going to keep doing what they’re doing."

Atallah spent this past summer in Beirut. He said the city is known for its night life.

"Restaurants, bars, clubs, diners, and just places to sit and talk with friends or go out and dance or go somewhere and eat," he said. "Even though there are conflicts and tensions in Lebanon people still find ways to enjoy life.

Atallah says there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the Middle East. When he tells people he’s Lebanese they think he’s Muslim.

"I don’t take offense to that, but I tell them,' No I’m not Muslim, I’m Catholic.' That’s probably the biggest misconception about Lebanon," he said.

About 40 percent of the population in Lebanon is Christian. Atallah said he would like to collaborate with other student associations on campus to hold talks and forums on what’s happening in the Middle East.

Ann is an editor and senior content producer with WSHU, including the founding producer of the weekly talk show, The Full Story.