Reflection: November 2015 Paris Attacks

This was written 2 days after the 2015 Paris attacks. My unfiltered thoughts on the matter.

The recent attacks in Paris were devastating. I remember the moment I heard about them and immediately my heart sank as I switched the tv on to watch the news. I was up until 2am that night discussing how heartbreaking this was. At that point, ISIS hadn’t yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. But everyone was already thinking it, if not saying it: Muslim terrorists.

As a Muslim, I found this really distressing. I noted that when I spoke about the attacks, I made sure to use the name of the terrorist group – ‘ISIS’. I didn’t just blame it on followers of one of the main religions in the world. I knew at once the effects of these attacks.

The Paris attacks in particular.

Despite the Lebanon attacks occurring only a couple of days before, not many people had heard about them. I know it’s not a competition – both of these attacks were as heartbreaking as each other. However, I can’t help feel that the Paris attacks are more important. For one, they got more coverage on the news than the Lebanon attacks ever did (even when the death count in Paris was at 30, compared to the 43 in Lebanon). I can’t decide whether it’s the media’s fault, or the people’s. Nowadays there’s no excuse for not being “in the know”. Why did people not support Lebanon by donating like they did to Paris ? Why did Facebook not switch on the “marked safe” option for Lebanon ? There’s no doubt that the Lebanese use Facebook.  Why did world leaders not make statements to show solidarity with Lebanon? I am so glad they did so for Paris – I found it very touching. But couldn’t they do it for Lebanon too?

I read an article recently about how “Arab Lives” don’t seem to matter to Westerners as much anymore and I can’t help but agree. The article also mentioned that Arabs themselves were more sad about the Paris attacks than the Lebanon attacks. Even Arabs don’t value their lives as much as Westerners’ lives. So does that mean only half of me matters because only half of me is British ?

I predicted the backlash that would affect normal non-extremist Muslims. It’s no secret that Islamophobia is bigger than it’s ever been before, especially over the last few years, but now that ISIS have actually carried out attacks close to home, it’s coming close to reaching its peak. And it scares me what will happen if they continue.

I have no clue how a terrorist member of ISIS thinks (if they do at all), but I’m pretty sure that this is the effect they want. They want Western society to turn against Muslims. They want to show Muslims that the “West” do not care about us. This can’t be true. I identify as a Muslim, but I also identify as a “Westerner”. So this makes no sense to me.

I was intrigued enough to look up Facebook comments on articles about these attacks. I’m sad to say that a lot have used the words “terrorists” and “Muslims” interchangeably. I don’t have to explain that this is so ignorant and prejudiced. I reported a hateful comment that talked about “nuking Mecca”. Facebook got back to me stating that this comment doesn’t violate their free speech rules.

I can’t believe how many likes the most hateful comments get. They say Islam is to blame because of the violent verses in the Qur’an. But there are also so many peaceful verses. Islam is a peaceful religion.

Only 6% of global terrorist attacks are carried out in the name of Islam. White right-wing extremists killed twice as many Americans in 2013 as Muslim extremists. These figures must mean something, no? Why doesn’t the media portray this? I guess it works in their favour to have an “enemy” they can report on. I’m not saying Muslim extremists don’t exist and that these attacks aren’t as bad as others. All terrorist attacks are all disgusting. I just want to know why is it that some groups are held to account for how extremists act, and other groups not?

After these attacks I have felt very vulnerable here in the West. Even more so being a Muslim here. The Muslim extremists are out to get me and the Islamophobes are out to get me.