For the second time this year, Parisians held candlelight vigils for those who fell victim to the terrorist attacks of ISIS. This time they were paying respects to the 129 victims of the November 13 attacks. The rest of the world stood by them, lighting their cities with France’s colors when the City of Lights went dark.
While the world showed solidarity with France, there was a predictable, islamophobic reaction by some against Muslims and refugees fleeing their own terrorized countries. Islamic extremists were responsible for the attacks in Paris- not Muslims. Whether the attacks on Paris were motivated by religion or not, these were acts of terror, not the acts of a whole religion.
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Though many associate those who practice Islam with terrorism, most terrorist attacks aren’t actually motivated by religion, but by the belief that nations should be separated by a certain heritage and that a particular group of people should be separated because of ethnicity, religion, or gender .
In fact, in the last five years, less than two percent of terrorist attacks in Europe were “religiously motivated.” In the United States, Islamist extremists were responsible for around six percent of terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2005.
That’s not to say that terrorists who consider themselves Muslim don’t exist, but there are Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish terrorists as well, and these don’t condemn their entire religion to prejudice and hatred.
Despite the facts, prejudice points fingers at Muslim, pushing them to take the blame as if they were responsible for the attacks. There are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and whenever there is an act of terror in the Western world, they are expected to apologize for the actions of the rare radicals who actually terrorize countries all over the world.
Those who practice Islam were aware of the reaction and backlash they would be facing, pushing them to take to twitter to condemn the Paris attacks and show solidarity with France using with the hashtags #TerrorismHasNoReligion, #IAmMuslim, and #NotInMyName. Tweets expressed that extremists and their actions of hate contradict the peace that Muslims wish to promote.
The reaction to Muslims following a terrorist attack is nothing new, after the January attacks at Charlie Hebdo there was a rise of 281 percent in anti-Muslim attacks in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same three months of the previous year, according to the National Observatory of Islamophobia.
Contrary to the belief of many, Muslims are actually one of of the largest group of victims of Islamist terrorists. More Muslims have been killed by Islamist extremists than Westerners and Christians. Extremists, no matter their reasoning, are willing to kill anyone who disagree with them — that includes Muslims.