An Important Reminder

Fear of terror is growing in Europe in response to the numerous terrorist attacks that have been carried out on European soil. The situation is dire, but while there are many forms of reaction that appear justifiable in moments of shock and horror, these can be dangerous when out in the light.
Following each attack in Western Europe there have been similar reactions in terms of policy and public sentiment. Politicians feel the need to prove that they are acting to keep their countries safe. The backup plan for the lack of better ideas appears to be more border control, surveillance, and more radical condemnation of those who stand behind the attacks. The overall public sentiment is similarly predictable. People speak up, vowing not to give in to the terrorists’ fear mongering while making a hasty shift to the right—to state control and surveillance. And the next step is often toward xenophobia and religious discrimination.
The attacks in Paris were followed by massive waves of Muslims and Arabs expressing solidarity with the victims and disgust towards ISIS. They were seen, they were heard, but they were largely ignored. It appears to simply be too convenient for the masses to blame and fear a group of people, easily distinguishable by their appearance, origin, and religion.
This not only gives the terrorists what they want—a divided Europe full of hatred fueled by irrational fears that are incompatible with what we claim to be our principles of equality, liberalism, and human rights. It also allows us to postpone confronting questions that make us uncomfortable. For one, how do a handful of young people that grew up in Belgium become terrorists bent on attacking the very society in which they were raised?
The terrorist organization’s guilt is absolutely without question as is the guilt of those who carried out the deadly attacks. With that said, the inclination towards a fear driven, hateful stigmatization of an entire religion, culture, and ethnicity cannot determine our reaction to terror. There should be no need for Muslim citizens of the EU to distance themselves from ISIS. ISIS neither represents the Arabic nor the Muslim world and we need to make sure we do not forget that for one second.

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