Paris Attacks: Community Relations

PrayforParis

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

When news breaks of attacks such as those that took place in Paris two days ago, horrific as they are, the sadness and shock Muslims join the world in feeling, can be juxtaposed with an irrational sense of culpability. Yes, we have become conditioned to terrorist atrocities followed by criticism of Islam and Muslims.

When the news from Paris broke on Friday night the thoughts of many Muslims were filled with horror at the panic and death on the streets of a European capital city. As a Briton I can empathise with the shock felt by Parisians at this time as such terror does not visit our doorstep.

As details emerged of attackers shouting about Syria the horror was joined by dismay at another attack by Muslim extremists and the inevitable reactions this would provoke.

Stories have since emerged of verbal abuse being directed at Muslims, and since it is women who are most visibly Muslim they have often borne the brunt of it. There has also been a lot of online abuse against Muslims and Islam in social media and newspapers both by writers and commenters.

However it has been heartening to see positive comments emerge, for example the #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist Twitter posts. Many people including journalists immediately began to comment that all Muslims should not be tarred with the same brush and it is reasonable attitudes such as this that will lessen tension between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Community relations have become strained in the past with claims that Muslims don’t integrate into society, support extremism and allow it to survive by turning a blind eye and not speaking up against it.

However this state of affairs is changing as Muslims, both individuals and spokespeople for organisations, now openly condemn extremism. Muslims in Britain can diffuse anti-Islamic hatred by publically stating that practices of groups such as ISIS are not true Islam.

Co-operation with the authorities is of great importance; if we have to have added security checks we need to remember it is for the safety of all of us.

Finally Muslims must ensure they do not allow extremist views to flourish by keeping an eye on what the youth are doing and teaching them to be proud British Muslims who interact with and make a contribution to the wider society.

We can apply the words of the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” to interfaith and community relations as by understanding and accepting one another we can work for the betterment of society.

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