Lessons from Paris

Shefali Kumar, Layout Editor

When people hear the words “Paris”, images of the atrocious assault, the massacre, the frantic search, the empowering march, the hostage situation, and the panic-stricken crowd come to mind. The peculiarity of the two major scenes: the deadly siege at a kosher grocery store and the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had a traumatizing effect on those living in France as well as people all around the world. It seemed as though the entire world had Paris in its prayers as the days of the search continued on. In times of dispair, countries all around the world came together to support those in France. Many lessons and ideas emerged as a result of the attack in Paris: varying from the secular value of the freedom of expression to the discrimination against Muslims any time a terrorist attack occurs.

A majority of the media covered the story from one angle: the terrorists had acted in the name of Allah, the God of Islam. The terrorist group that was responsible for the attack claimed to have committed it because of Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammad, and France and America’s support of the regimes that they deemed were against Islam. However, the abominable acts of crime committed in Paris were about anything but religion.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, terrorists and Muslims have become synonymous. Terrorists are people who commit atrocious and unconscionable acts and sometimes try to use religion as a justification.

These terrorist groups are committing these acts in order to establish their reputation, recruit more people into their organization, and get more donations. They spread the message of hatred to mold young minds into their way of thinking so that they can use them in whatever way they want.

In fact, although these terrorists claim to have acted in the name of Allah for Islam, Islam prohibits murder and terrorism. The Qur’an explicitly states, “There is no compulsion in religion.” It goes against the fundamental beliefs of Islam to attempt to impose religion on another person. Islam actually encourages its believers to do good to everyone, including those who have harmed you.

There is no rule or belief in Islam approving the notion to kill innocent people if they have insulted the religion Islam; there is no incentive within the religion for terrorists to commit immoral acts in the name of their god. Terrorists do not terrorize because of religion; they terrorize for money.

As a consequence of  heinous actions, innocent Muslims suffer throughout the world. Muslims are taunted and called terrorists, even as they go about their regular life. There are 1.6 billion Muslims living in the world, making up 23% of the world’s population. To say that this entire population of people is composed of terrorists and extremist people is ridiculous.

When we live in a world full of people from countless different cultures, religions, and backgrounds, we begin to judge based on a certain viewpoint held against a culture or race. Inevitably, stereotypes are formed in society. We begin to people as a collection of stereotypes, rather than who they actually are. This very notion of being misunderstood serves as a catalyst for conflicts and hardships all around the world. How is it possible for someone to hate everyone who follows a certain religion based on a single attack? The world needs to let go of bigotry and extremism ; this is just one lesson learned from the attack in Paris.