In the aftermath of the atrocity in Paris, a calculated attack that the Islamic State has taken responsibility for, which has left 129 dead and hundreds more wounded, Europe is in mourning. In mourning for the loss of civilian lives, and for the fact that our liberal democracies may never claw back the feeling of everyday safety that they have relied on for decades.
And whilst the grief compounds for the people of France and elsewhere in Europe, a grief arguably driven by fear that an attack so vicious and well executed has happened so close to home, it’s important to also remember the grief of Muslim people worldwide. Grief that attacks in Beirut and Baghdad have been so cleanly covered up by the mainstream media in the West, and grief that bilious tabloids and individuals are picking their religion into little pieces, trying to work out which bit it is that has created such a mess.
The truth, as everyone with any intent to looking into the whole picture would know, is that nothing about the Islamic religion is related to these attacks. The Quran wholly condemns the killing of innocent people, and Muslim news outlets, as well as individuals on social media, are working to disavow the poisionous, destructive notion that Islam is inherently violent.
In the midst of the emotions thrown up in the wake of these terror attacks, it’s vital to remember to ensure the protection of Muslims here in Europe, as well as throughout the rest of the world. Counterattacks, even ‘lone-wolf’ style ones, are sure to follow – from the danger of resurgence in popularity of France’s far-right National Front, to people in Islamic clothing being verbally and physically attacked on public transport, we must remember that the victims of these attacks are not just who it may first appear to be.
In a time when #killallmuslims trended on Twitter following the attacks, and Iraq, which identifies as an Islamic republic, has the highest global deaths by terrorism at 35.4% of the total, it’s sobering that right-wing press can keep distorting literal facts into such divisive narratives. It’s – ironically – these narratives of hate that provide the conditions for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism within the West. It’s the stigmatisation and ghettoisation of entire demographics that leads to the simmering resentment that erupts in understandable, but misguided, anger. To truly control the threat of terrorism at home, we first have to understand how our actions have helped it to flourish.
Acts of terror can never be condoned, but only by understanding the geopolitical role of the West through the eyes of those affected by military intervention, droning and Islamophobia every day can we go some way to undoing the part that we have played in creating pockets of distrust and division.