Like all westerners, I watched in horror at the terror that was unleashed across Paris. But my horror quickly turned to frustration when, immediately in the aftermath, western leaders took advantage of the situation to reinforce a false narrative, and to justify the very policies that have brought us to such a crisis. Our governments do not want us to understand that wittingly or unwittingly (the jury is still out on what role they have really played) they created the conditions for the rise of ISIS, and they did so through exactly the same disastrous policies that they now claim are the only way to destroy it.
The neighbourhoods outside of Paris, where the longtime Muslim European residents live have become a security problem. They have become slums which the central government actively avoids. Due to a lack of government involvement, a growing detachment from the State grows within the local Muslim youth. In these lost neighbourhoods, the terrorists of today and tomorrow are raised. These are the areas were ISIS operatives look to recruit new foreign fighters.
Talking more about one attack or reacting more passionately to it does not a narrow response make, nor does it mean you are a bigot who wants your country's doors closed to refugees. What I would like is for the hectoring posturers out there to understand that Paris, in many ways, represents the apex of Western culture.
Whether our numerous interventions are justified or not, we cannot continue to let our self-imagined grand delusions make us blind to the fact that our actions abroad can come back to haunt us here at home. The problem with this admission, however is that it forces us to look in the mirror to confront our very own imperfections. Yet until we're able to do so, peace in our times will continue to remain an elusive fantasy and the carnage is destined to continue.
I learned the news from internet sites -- the Bataclan was not very far from me. I know that spot. I discovered that one of the shootings was on Charonne Street. I looked up the address: 92 rue de Charonne, la Belle Équipe restaurant. My address: 125 rue de Charonne. Brent ordered me not to go outside.
When something terrible continues to happen, over and over, all of us are to blame. By allowing news outlets to turn these seminal events into cheap sensationalism, by believing that changing your profile pic equals action, by not resisting old ways of thinking nor doing whatever you can to open eyes, by not demanding better of your country or culture.
In the wake of the tragedy in Paris, there is a question in the media asking if the terrorists used encryption. To continue using the internet as you know it, you have to use encryption. Unless you want to have your medical health history online for all to read, and end shopping online altogether, we rely on encryption to protect our information.
Such is the nature of our hyper-connected planet that events seemingly worlds away from our day-to-day lives can reverberate in our neighbourhood. That is the power and promise of social media - it makes the world smaller. The flip side, however, is that faraway events, like those in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria and Egypt, can embolden otherwise-marginal, hateful forces here at home.
I've been told that we care too much for the people of Paris. That our outpouring of sympathy ignores the fate of other countries, that we are too selective in our grief. We find it so easy to stand with our old ally, while places like Beirut and Nigeria burn. We are hypocrites for caring so much about France. But it's false.
The coordinated killings that rocked Paris over the weekend are an unspeakable horror. But we must not allow the horrific nature of this atrocity to drag Canada back into the racism, Islamophobia and war-mongering that characterized our last government. The burden to hold firm on the change that we demanded in the October election is jointly shared between Canadians and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Unfortunately, there is a stubborn quality to the Prime Minister's current commitment to meet his election promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by Christmas. There is an easy solution to this current impasse between the facts on the ground today and an election promise made months ago. Set a reasonable timeline and follow the responsible policies of the American government.
Those who were indifferent before the Paris attacks are now outspoken critics of Prime Minister Trudeau's commitment to accept 25,000 refugees and bring our CF-18's home. Some of the comments I have seen are downright vitriolic. It has been suggested to me by a number of people that we re-consider reminding people at this time that we're sponsoring a refugee family. It might be bad for business and could alienate more than a few friends. I find it incredibly sad that the current state of affairs is such that I have even faint concerns about a backlash for my desire to help those in need. I certainly won't let it deter me.
Islam unambiguously opposes terror tactics -- terrorism is not a religious ritual but a military strategy. Muslims condemn terrorism because it is as antithetical to their worldview. Almost all iterations of Islamic law explicitly classifies hirabah (terrorism and highway robbery) as a major sin. Indeed, the Qur'an proclaims: "If anyone kills a person without justification, it is as if they have killed the whole of humanity." Moreover, the Prophet Mohammed's strict rules of engagement even in times of hostility were blunt: "Do not kill women or children or non-combatants."
The act of madness is followed by a wave of madness, where states are bombed to rubble and the cycle of irrational thinking becomes the rule that governs the game. I wish, as we utilize our resources to discuss issues facing our societies, we could do the same with these acts of violence so that we can discover a solution.
When we think of terrorism, we don't think of how it throws us off our axis; how it makes us question everything we think we know about safety and the well being of human kind. We think about the immediate pain caused. We are emotional; we are in tears, we are enraged with the injustice of innocent lives lost. We struggle to understand why. We struggle to get others to engage, but our only goals should be compassion and empathy.
Some people think violence is a way to solve their problems or effect change in the world. It is important for us to understand that they want us to be divided, to be fearful and suspicious of one another. In order to stand strong in the face of terrorism, we must stand together across race, ethnicity, language, religion, and nationality.