The very public slaughter of innocent people on the streets of Paris shook the entire world. The ISIS, the agency responsible for the strikes has threatened the entire world community. This attack shows that it is ahead of all of us because it has the element of surprise. Interestingly, the Paris attacks that have followed 9/11, the gruesome London bombings and the Mumbai attacks have one thing in common, the attackers are Muslims and are doing this in the name of Islam. The result is a backlash against Muslims across the world, especially in Europe and the United States, as well as against the Syrian refugees who are already suffering at the hands of their “own” people. The wave of Islamophobia and the attacks on Muslims are just justifying the actions and statements of the ISIS as well as aiding their recruitment of delusional youth. One of the suspected terrorists is Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old belonging to a second generation Moroccan family settled in the Molenbleek section of the Belgian capital city of Brussels. He was unemployed and convicted for petty crimes such as stealing, but his family members never thought that he would undertake jihad. His whereabouts are unknown, while his elder brother Mohamed begs for forgiveness and pleads against the public condemnation of his family. In plain terms, Islamophobia is dangerous and we are staring at death if we continue to view terrorism and terrorists through the religion they profess.
The lines have got blurred and every Muslim is looked at with suspicion across the world, including in our own “secular” nation. The veil and the beard are considered to be a symbol of hate and deception. The question is, whether the terrorists’ religion is the most important issue or whether we are deliberately viewing the issue of terrorism with jaundiced eyes. Targeting a religious group instead of the terrorists is just what they want, as this justifies their action. That is exactly what Australian news anchor Waleed Aly explained on his TV show, The Project. While it may sound very brave and heroic when Donald Trump, the US Presidential hopeful says “we have to shut down mosques”, but in reality, it’s counter-productive. The recent statement made by Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson comparing Syrian refugees with rabid dogs shows that anti-Muslim sentiments have reached their peak. Consequently, the US House has passed a bill to halt the inflow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until the national security agencies certify that the refugees do not pose a security risk. These statements from US politicians are not surprising, given their country’s history of backlash against Muslims and Sikhs after 9/11. People making these statements believe they are appealing to a constituency across the world which clearly believes that the next war is between Muslims and non-Muslims. The US and Europe have failed to integrate communities who have sought refuge in these countries and the problem of extremism stems from the lack of integration. These statements are a reminder of the anti-Semitic sentiments that prevailed in Germany under Adolf Hitler, the results of which are known to the world.
While the French are seeking revenge by bombing ISIS sites in Syria, they are also punishing hordes of Syrian refugees who have become a pawn in this cat and mouse game. Nobody wants them and if this sort of anger prevails, then many more innocent Syrian children will meet the same fate as Syrian child Aylan Kurdi, who was found dead on a Turkey beach.
It is important to understand that the ISIS is killing Muslims too and that scores of Muslims across the world have condemned these attacks. But is condemnation enough? Many would argue no, it is not enough. The mood in Europe is against Muslims and in favour of taking away their civil liberties and freedom to practise their own religion. If this serves any purpose then governments across the world should shunt out Muslims who have largely migrated to seek refuge and now see these countries as their own. Muslims born in Britain and America have a much stronger sense of their British identity or American identity rather than the fact that they are Muslims. Syria has become the next Afghanistan and the ISIS is largely seen as the successor of the Al Qaeda. What one needs to realise is that the Syrian refugees, who happen to be Muslims, are desperate and do not want a world dictatorship. They long for a safe environment, a place to stay and some food to eat. They are crying for help and are seeking an end to suffering, murder, poverty and hunger. If justice is served by punishing Syrian refugees and pushing them out then I rest my case.
As Paris struggles towards normalcy, the mood in France and across the western world is that of mourning. Four of the assailants are Frenchmen while one is a Belgian national. This heightens suspicions towards the Muslims living in France who are alleged to be in touch with the ISIS or other terrorist organisations.
The attack has instilled a sense of fear since two Paris bound Air France flights have been diverted due to bomb threats. People thrive in times of misery and this is what the terrorists have wanted all along. With Russia also seeking revenge for the downing of the Russian passenger plane, allegedly by ISIS, in Sinai, Egypt last month, a repeat of the Iraq war on terror seems to be in the offing. But then that war brought only misery and destruction to the world.