Terrorism Has No Religion

13th November 2015 is a date that many will remember. It is a sad day for humanity; three cities were attacked by terrorist groups in one day. I stand in solidarity with the citizens of Beirut, Baghdad, Paris, and all of those who are victims of extremist attacks. However, there are many important points that need to be made in light of the situation.

In southern Beirut, IS has claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing in a mostly Shiite residential area in a busy shopping district at rush hour. The Lebanese Health ministry said at least 43 people had been killed an more than 200 wounded. This is the worst attack to strike the city in years.

In Baghdad, a suicide bombing attack targeting Shiites at a funeral in a mosque. According to security and medical officials, this attack killed 19 people and wounded 33. Two officials said the funeral was for a member of the volunteer paramilitary force known as the Popular Mobilisation units, which are some of the most effective forces against IS.

In Paris, IS claimed responsibility for attacks at six locations on Friday night, the deadliest being a massacre of a hostage situation in a the Bataclan concert hall where at least 80 people were killed. So far, French authorities put the number of fatalities at 128. France has not witnessed violence to this degree since World War II, and has called a state of emergency for the first time since World War II.

It has also just come to my attention that today, 14th November 2015, a mass Yazidi grave has been found in Iraq city of Sinjar.  The Kurdish forces had driven out ISIS on Friday and, today, found the mass grave of dozens of women executed by ISIS while clearing out bombs that the extremists had left behind. Yet another crime against humanity this weekend.

In this time of desperation in the West, we must also remember that there are many victims of extremist attacks within the Middle East which occur on a daily basis. Evident in the incidents above, IS are targeting Christians, Muslims, Yazidis. They are targeting everyone. Evident in the conflict within Syria and Iraq, it is obvious that IS is in no way a part of the Muslim community as they rampage through towns, religious and sacred places, and ancient monuments.

We must remember that Muslims are not to blame, nor should they need to apologise for the actions of extremists. This is not their fault. ISIS have claimed responsibility for these attacks. The stigma that ties Muslims with terrorists is harmful and false. Terrorism has no religion. If anything, many have fallen victim to not only ignorance and anger of the West, but also to the horror of ISIS. My thoughts and prayers go out to my friends and everyone in the Muslim community who may fall victim to ignorance, anger, and hate.

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This is also not the fault of the influx of migrants who are fleeing their homes from conflict and atrocities. They are merely seeking refuge – safety. We should help them like fellow Parisians did last night with ‪#‎PorteOuverte‬. We can not punish the hundreds of thousands fleeing a life of terror because of the actions of international terrorists.

Remember the hundreds and thousands of civilian lives lost because of airstrikes conducted in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen. An independent AirWars report released that U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have likely killed at least 459 civilians over the past year. During the past four years of the Syrian Civil War up until August 15 2015, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 112,000 out of the 330,000 killed were civilians. In these dark days, we need more than ever to preserve the sanctity of civilian lives and uphold that war is between combatants and not with civilians.

I stand in solidarity with the victims of extremists attacks, from Paris on Friday night to the asylum seekers risking their lives across seas, from those in Beirut to the civilians in the Middle East who experience this terror every day. Together, we stand.

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