This last week since the terrorist attacks in Paris, a tragedy seen by all, has left the Western world in complete turmoil. An event that has hit home hard for so many people has divided opinions among many, as it has affected us all and shook us into a frenzy of political awareness. This has happened often over the last few months, with the Syrian refugee children still scarred in our minds, but this global event seems different. Whereas then, we all stood together, united only in empathy – now, we’re receiving both ends of the spectrum of emotion and action.

We’re seeing, in solidarity, millions change their profile pictures and writing status’ of their horror, as many feared in the night that it may incite much terror for innocent Middle Eastern/British people who will be receiving backlash. However, we’ve also seen a dirty side of many, using this chance to exploit the current affairs for their own agendas, in the Republicans linking it with gun control, as well as petitions to end immigration from ignorant xenophobes seeing their chance of action.

In a situation that demands a certain response, we have found ourselves clueless. While Donald Trump suggests that we should take a handgun to every concert we attend (que a Justin Bieber joke) to protect ourselves from terrorists, this propaganda shows disrespect and a disconnection to the memories of the people who died, twisting the tragedy for their agenda. It’s the petition, however, that poses a real problem. To suggest that we let no one in while we deal with ISIS, is to suggest a lack of trust to anyone but our own. Regardless of the fact many of these terrorists were French, Britain’s 430,000 strong petition believes that this will make a difference to our national security (it also uses the Daily Mail as their main source of reference, so much for their beliefs.) In reality, we can’t hold every Muslim with disdain and expect that they don’t hold it against us. A FBI report revealed that Islamic extremists only amounted to 6% of overall terrorism worldwide, while less than 1% of the Muslim population pose a threat of extremism, so we should be understanding in this situation, rather than inciting hatred, because discrimination is a breeding ground for terrorism – and the ones at most risk of radicalisation are the abused and disenfranchised people don’t know where/with who they belong.

St George’s Hall – Solidarity

That is why it is so important to treat people as individuals and assume the best, not worst, in people, rather than focusing on their religion and categorising them with a few people who have never represented them, or their beliefs. Otherwise, we play right into the hands of ISIS and allow them the most powerful recruitment strategy possible. Discriminating to try and stop terrorism is a step backwards insofar as the prophylactic response to stopping further radicalisation is to not discriminate at all. Would a teenager run off to Syria to train in an attempt to end our western way of life, if they felt accepted and loved by it, and knowing their own beliefs would be unimpeded? Most people just want to go about their lives with all the freedoms and peace possible, and it is only when they feel this is impossible that there is a backlash.

We need to get to terms with all of life being precious, that collateral damage is just a euphemism of murder and that every action creates a reaction. Known terrorists should be put to trial, not barbarically killed otherwise we are without any moral high ground in war, and are just as bad as those we claim to be evil, in our oversimplified ‘good guys vs bad guys’ mantra.

We have seen through the invasion of Iraq that the US had affectively created ISIS through their abusive treatment of Muslims, by imprisoning innocent men with radicals in Camp Bucca prison, along with generally fucking up their country and government. Even Tony Blair has admitted influence in creating ISIS (after a change of heart, following the impending Chilcot report). In hindsight, we went about it all wrong, and should have gone about it more delicately. And that’s my point, we can learn from our mistakes and make sure that we never persecute individuals, so we can learn to understand them. That’s not saying don’t attack ISIS, because we have to show full brute force now, however if we showed more compassion to the situation in Iraq and to their innocent people, this might not have happened. We can learn from this now by showing compassion to all those that need it now, asylum seekers who just don’t want to live in fear, migrants who may be victims of racial abuse, and each other; especially the families of the victims of many of the tragedies that have happened recently – in Paris, Lebanon, Japan, Mexico and Afghanistan.

As long as we can grow and learn to get through tragedies together, while not letting it lead to prejudice of others, we can create a better world in the future where we can all live among each together, in a true multicultural society that Britain is proud to be, and can improve on. And with this, we can strive for justice and humanitarianism.