On Sunday Oct. 1, 2017 the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history saw at least 58 killed and hundreds more wounded after a gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas. Just a day before on Sept. 30, police officers were stabbed and four pedestrians were hit by a truck in an attack in Edmonton, Alta.
It was the third attack on a major music event in recent years. Last year, 22 people were killed at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., and in 2015, 89 people died in a suicide attack during a performance by the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan theatre in Paris, France.
This past Sept. 15, yet another bomb blast aimed at commuters in a train on the London Underground signalled to England and the free world that ISIS is still a significant threat to the peace and safety of innocent citizens across the free world. While in this recent incident it is likely the bomb failed to fully detonate, saving many commuters from death or a lifetime of pain and disfigurement, we all must continue to be vigilant in the face of what is clearly an ongoing threat to us all.
As an immigrant myself, my heart does go out to Muslims who will surely feel the effects of this ongoing terrorism as, at best, victims of suspicion and, at the very worst, victims of outright racism. I believe that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding people, just as I believe one of the intended outcomes of these terrorist attacks is to be a catalyst for anti-Muslim reactions that will serve to divide Canadian society and perhaps ultimately promote radicalization. I strongly believe the best weapon to fight radicalization in Canada is to fight racism against our Muslim citizens; racism that could isolate this community and create a cohort of disaffected youth who may, as a result, look to more radical elements of the faith.
In previous articles I have spoken about the need for Muslims to work closer with our law enforcement agencies as an integral part of the solution to home-grown terrorism, or indeed to fight any act of terrorism here, or anywhere where terror may strike. While I remain convinced that this principle is key to early detection of radicalized elements in any community and probably the best hope for preventing terrorists from succeeding in their attacks on the innocent, the greater community has an equally important role to play in putting a stop to racism in all of its forms.
In the 1858 speech that launched his political career, Abraham Lincoln famously said: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Along this same line, I believe a nation's people divided against each other cannot ever live peacefully or prosperously, and racism is one such thing that I believe provides the greatest threat to our peace by dividing us from each other.
To date, the major and effective acts of savagery in the name of ISIS have been in the United States, the old world nations of Europe, and against western and American targets abroad. Trucks and cars plowing into people have become new weapons against innocent citizens going about their daily lives. Terror arrives in explosions and fire on public transit systems crowded with commuters.
In the face of this senseless violence, we must strengthen the bonds that unite our communities. To allow anything to divide us will be to invite on ourselves a greater threat of violence at home, and give those who would create terror in our society a greater chance of success here, in Canada.
Brampton-based Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer.