By Alex Bennett, Reporter
We are all only human, and it’s understandable that in the wake of recent events, one of the first questions we ask is “Why?” Why were more than 120 people murdered in Paris? Why would people blow themselves up and murder innocent civilians, and then claim it was actually “carefully chosen targets” they were killing?
And firstly, one of the most important answers is that there is no one simple answer. If you want to blame Islam as a whole, you have to first realize it has more than 1.5 billion followers, with at least as broad a difference between Muslim individuals in terms of beliefs and practices as any other religion.
Many Muslims in many nations do not follow violent practices or advocate violent beliefs. They contextualize what happened in the past, make a judgment on what is or isn’t acceptable now, and choose what interpretations to believe and how to deal with the facts as they are.
While there are some people who still generalize all Muslims to be part of a violent and hateful religion, there seems to be a growing number of people who note that those extremists comprise a tiny minority of Muslims compared to the vast majority who do not engage in suicide bombings or militaristic jihad.
Yet there are still some who believe Muslims need to return to the origin of what Islam was originally like during the time of Muhammad. Centuries ago, the actions of Muslims against their enemies did include some horrific and barbaric practices, but these were considered relatively more normal or acceptable at the time.
What the Islamic State appears to be doing is looking at how Islam is practiced now, rejecting it, and claiming that they’ve established a legitimate caliphate under which Sharia law must be implemented. Some Muslims in other countries are so overjoyed about this self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria that they have been scrambling to join them in their struggles, no matter what degree of barbarity is apparent.
The point is, we do nobody any good by generalizing and discriminating against Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorist attacks. If we are to actually make a difference, first we need to educate ourselves. An alarming number of people are eager to point out why things have all gone wrong in this world, despite the fact that empirical evidence shows we are actually in one of the most peaceful times in all of history in terms of casualties as a result of warfare.
When the incredibly vast majority of a group of people denounce suicide bombings and the actions of the Islamic State, it’s important to realize that if you try to just claim something is the result of Muslim countries or Muslims in general, you’re painting a huge variety of separate peoples with an overly broad brush, and failing to accurately address reality.
How do we stop terrorist attacks like those in Paris from happening? We can at least start by educating people on what is and isn’t Islam, and who is or isn’t a terrorist. We can start by practicing Christian virtues like those of loving one’s neighbor as you would love yourself. We can start by showing solidarity and sympathy for the victims of violence.
In this time of grief and mourning, we should also strive to discover what went wrong to allow this breach of security, and we should recognize what practices might be useful for decreasing the chances for a tragedy of this scale to ever happen again.
Alex Bennett is a junior journalism major from Flower Mound. He is a reporter for the Lariat.