By now, everyone’s heard of what happened in Paris. This weekend, the attacks took over the news, covering front pages and trending on social media. It was brought up and discussed in two of my classes. My mom, who was in Paris about a week before the attacks—close to where some of them took place, even—felt sick for days. We all did. Paris, whether it’s been said or not, is something we’ll all be thinking of for a while.
It’s horrible what happened. It’s horrible that people who walked around feeling safe—like my mother did on her visit—can’t do that anymore in a city where 129 of its citizens are now dead and hundreds more are wounded. It’s horrible that Parisians will now have to bury their children, spouses, siblings and parents. It’s horrible. I will never do or say anything to minimize this horror, but there’s another tragedy that’s coming out of the Paris attacks: widespread hate and fear.
It’s been four days, and already so many stories are popping up. Late Saturday night, a Peterborough mosque—the only one in the city—was set on fire, causing more than $80,000 in damages. Saskatchewan’s Premier, Brad Wall, wrote a letter to Justin Trudeau asking to suspend the government’s plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2016 for security measures, and cited the Paris attacks in his reasoning. A Spanish newspaper mistakenly posted a selfie of a Canadian Sikh journalist, Veerender Jubbal, wearing a suicide bomber’s vest that had been Photoshopped onto him. In the United States, GOP candidates have come forth to yell about keeping Syrians out. Trump, in addition to his usual fountain of crap, said a few weeks ago that if he was president, he’d deport all Syrian refugees because they could be ISIS. Yesterday, he added that he would consider shutting down mosques in the US because “some of the ideas and some of the hatred is coming from these areas”. Ben Carson, AKA the dumbest brain surgeon ever, reaffirmed that bringing people into America from “that area of the world” is a “huge mistake”. Jeb Bush has decided to play it nice and say that he’d allow Syrian refugees in—but oh, only if they’re Christian Syrians and have been properly vetted. And if you read the comments on any of these articles, you’re likely to find a similar cesspool of hot, steaming hate.
This kind of sudden, widespread Islamophobia is arguably as horrible as the Paris attacks. And the biggest problem is that instead of trying to support Paris and help it heal, a lot of people are rushing to misplace their blame. Instead of looking at facts—like the one where as of yesterday, five of the seven suspects were born and raised in Europe, not the Middle East, and the mastermind behind the attacks was a Belgian national of Moroccan origin—they’re looking for something to blame. And they found it in Islam.
Again, I’m not in any way saying that what happened in Paris was anything but horrible. It was horrible—truly, honestly horrible. Friday’s events will echo on for a while, because like 9/11, like the 2014 attacks at Parliament Hill, a country’s previous feeling of safety and security has been shattered completely. It’ll be a long time before Parisians can feel safe in their own city, before they can go outside without fear of another attack.
But I am saying that instead of placing blame and discriminating against people because they believe in a religion made infamous for birthing radicals, we should focus on helping Paris heal. Saying every Muslim is a terrorist is like saying every Christian is a misogynistic white supremacist. It’s untrue and demeaning. This “us vs. them” culture that’s revealed itself so much in Paris’ aftermath is just as toxic as ISIS’ radical form of Islam.
So please, if you really feel bad about what happened in Paris, don’t show it by standing up to those Dangerous Muslim Terrorists or whatever you want to call them. Show it by supporting Parisians, and by finding out facts before pointing fingers.
- In Paris, the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ that divides a stricken city won’t heal it: Keith Boag (CBC News)
- Paris attack: After the massacre, all that’s left is the right in France