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BAGHDAD: The world has been stunned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but shock quickly gave way to indignation in other strife-torn parts of the world over media commentary many saw as racist against them.

“This isn’t a place — with all due respect, you know — like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades,” said Charlie D’Agata of US network CBS News.

“This is a relatively civilised, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully too — city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope it is going to happen.”

A day later, after much online furore, D’Agata apologised for his “poor choice of words”.

This was just one of many remarks on reputable media outlets drawing a line between the conflict unfolding in Ukraine and those in other parts of the world.

Many Arabs were quick to point out the double standard, noting that while the toll of war may be similar in the respective conflicts, the media treatment is not.

Some also drew a comparison between Europe’s welcoming of Ukrainian refugees and the influx of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, which was declared a “migrant crisis”.

Political scientist Ziad Majed said that, while there was “magnificent solidarity” from the world over the Ukraine conflict, it also revealed a “shocking distinction”.

The discrepancies in media treatment revealed the “dehumanisation of refugees from the Middle East”, said Majed, a professor at the American University of Paris.

“We can understand that the Ukrainians are Europeans, and that the memory of war in Europe can revive a lot of emotions,” he said.

Around 350,000 refugees have entered Poland from Ukraine, says deputy minister

But he stressed that “when we hear some commentators speaking about ‘people like us’, this suggests that those coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa are not (like them)”.

‘Racist coverage’

The Qatari channel Al Jazeera English was also not immune to the controversy.

“These are not, obviously, refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war,” said one of its anchors. “They look like any European family that you would live next door to.”

The network later issued an apology, describing the remarks as “insensitive and irresponsible”.

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