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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Guest Column: A Muslim’s perspective on the aftermath of the Paris attacks

Friday evening, along with the rest of the world, I turned on the news and watched the horrific events in Paris unravel, and my heart broke.

One hundred and twenty-nine lives lost. One hundred and twenty-nine people who were so much more than just another statistic in yet another tragedy.  But as I reacted to the tragedy with grief, the rest of the world was reacting to something else, too.

While I had my head down in mourning, the world around me had slowly turned and had its fingers pointed at me — a Muslim.

When the news of the attack first broke out, I found myself fervently hoping that the attackers were not affiliated with Muslims in any way. As the day progressed and it became clear that perpetrators behind such sickening violence were in fact connected in some way to ISIS, I was immensely saddened as this terrorist attack would probably further cement and define the misconceptions people have about Islam.

It makes me so heartsick. I am heartsick of this seemingly endless violence that time and time again perverts the name of my faith. I am heartsick of being on the defensive. I am heartsick of the Islamophobic comments I get to read and hear from my own peers and colleagues around me. It is an exhausting battle — one which, some days, seems to be going nowhere.

But if I close my eyes and think rationally, things start to make sense. The fear of the unknown and uncontrollable makes people lash out. It is a fear based so much on misunderstandings to the point where the words “radicalism” and “extremism” have become synonymous with “Islam.” It is a fear which, at the end of the day, actively promotes the goals of the very terrorist organizations we detest — to sow discord and division.

I said “we detest” as in the majority of Muslims around the world. The irony of the situation is that ISIS and other extremist terrorist groups have been a major threat to the safety of numerous Islamic nations and peoples.

Just two days before the Paris attacks, ISIS took responsibility for a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 43 and wounded around 240 people. In fact, an investigation conducted across Iraq — a predominantly Muslim country — under the United Nation’s Human Rights Office found that during the first eight months of 2014, around 9,347 civilians had been killed and an estimated 17,386 had been wounded, with the primary aggressor behind these incidents being ISIS.

To quote Jordan’s Queen Rania, we should just “drop the first ‘I’ in ISIS because there’s nothing Islamic about them.”

Islam is no different than many other religions — it is made up of people, both good and bad. Terrorism has no religion. It has no foundation in any legitimate belief system and the majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, including myself, will agree that these baseless acts of violence are not done in our name.

In times like the present, where tragedies and the loss of life have become commonplace, it is more important than ever to speak up and condemn the culprits. So I’ll condemn, and condemn and condemn again, not because of my faith or because I am responsible, but because the actions of the few do not define me, because my reaction does.

My heart is heavy for Paris and Beirut and Syria and for all those who are oppressed and hurting. Know that your sufferings are heard and that you are in our prayers. The road ahead is rocky and tedious but as a united front, unceasing steps will carry us along. May peace be upon all of you.

Sarah Ahmed is a political science sophomore at Texas A&M.

 

 

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