In the aftermath of Paris, where 129 innocent people have been killed in bomb attacks the world seems to have come to a standstill. Whilst watching the coverage as it was happening, me like most Muslims were hoping and praying that ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) were not responsible. But deep down in our hearts we knew, and unsurprisingly ISIL have since claimed responsibility.
We are now expecting the backlash and reprisal attacks. One Muslim woman was already bottled in Fulham, London within 24 hours of the attacks in Paris, and a Muslim woman was abused whilst praying in Australia. This is just the beginning for when Muslim terrorists strike, life becomes increasingly difficult for all other Muslims, especially covered women who are not only identifiable as Muslims but also deemed as easy targets.
The hate on Twitter was immediate and immense, where I read many tweets like ‘Kill all Muslims’ and ‘Get all Muslims out of my country.’ Emotions are running high understandably but whenever an attack like this occurs some people think it is an opportunity to incite racial hatred. We’ve seen it before after 9/11, 7/7, Charlie Hebdo, innocent people die and then Muslims get the brunt of it.
What happened in Paris was sheer horror, it was gruesome and it was bloody but it also happened in Lebanon the day before. It also happened in Baghdad two days ago. Why don’t we care about these lives? Same group, same motives but different lives. Lives that aren’t white, lives that aren’t European or American, why do they matter less?
Is it because we think the Middle East is some medieval part of the world which we can’t identify with? Have we become desensitised to the deaths in the Middle East? Whether they die in Palestine, Iraq or Syria, why don’t we care as much? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves.
Is it because Paris is in Europe, which is geographically near to us or that we all hold special memories from our holidays in Paris? What about those who have family in Beirut or in Baghdad, what condolences have we offered them? Or is it simply because a white life is much more valuable than any other?
In October alone the UN says 717 people died and thousands were injured from acts of terrorism in Iraq. In our heads we can’t even comprehend such a number but this is the reality.
So why France? France along with the UK and USA are involved in air strikes in Iraq against ISIL. ISIL has said in its statement – this is a revenge attack for the military intervention in Iraq and Syria. Make no mistake and please do not believe the politicians who want you to think ‘ This is an attack on our freedom and our way of life.’ No it’s not, it’s revenge for joining Putin and Assad in attacking a shared enemy.
What is almost laughable if it wasn’t so ironically tragic is that Bashar Al Assad has killed more people than ISIL, yet we continue to ignore Assad. Assad has the backing of Putin so we are also indirectly assisting him in trying to destroy our shared enemy. The biggest powers in the world are trying to defeat ISIL and like with any war the enemy will strike back. And it has.
Things are bleak, for all we can do really is hope that the politicians in France, the US and UK don’t make any knee jerk decisions. Like George Bush did after 9/11 and invaded Afghanistan only to find Bin Laden many years later in a different country. Whatever they do decide, and chances are it will involve increased military intervention and violence in the region, only more bloodshed is to follow. Whether it’s our military sending drones to Iraq, or ISIL attacking European cities no one really knows the end game. No one really understands how to overcome the problem of ISIL and how it was created in the first place.
The only thing we can do is try and understand each other and unite against violence whether it’s in Baghdad, Beirut or Paris. Murder is murder regardless of the skin colour or religion of the victims, or the motives of the perpetrator.