Terrorists hide behind religion to legitimize barbarity

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Originally published in The Duluth News Tribune

On Nov. 13, the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS, killed 130 innocent civilians in horrific attacks in Paris. President Francois Hollande of France called it “an act of war” and committed to “destroy ISIS.” Expressing solidarity with France, President Barack Obama said, “It is an attack on the civilized world.”

France acted swiftly by dropping bombs on ISIS strongholds in Syria. Bombing may kill the rank and file of ISIS, but it will nurture grounds for future militant groups. Today’s ISIS is an offspring of U.S. bombings of Iraq more than a decade ago. Nearly half a million civilian casualties resulted from the Iraq War in collateral damage. Many innocent children who saw their homes blown away and family members torn into pieces are now easy ploys for ISIS to carry out its heinous agenda against humanity.

Although the Paris massacre is one of the largest single acts of ISIS’s savagery, the overwhelming majority of ISIS victims are Syrian Muslims. More than 4 million Syrians have fled their homes to save their lives, seeking refuge in neighboring countries, with a small portion spilling out to Europe and America.

Prior to the Paris attacks, President Obama planned to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in America, a plan that now is in jeopardy. Many states oppose taking in any Syrian refugees, fearing some ISIS recruits might infiltrate with them.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 750,000 refugees have been resettled in America, and not a single one of them has been charged with domestic terrorism. On the other hand, refugees, if sent back to Syria, are likely to either be killed or forced to join ISIS. The civilized world has to weigh in before closing the doors on Syrian refugees.

Neither can bombing Syria eliminate ISIS’s ideology, nor barring Syrian refugees guarantee protection against future attacks. In fact, these are the weapons of barbaric ISIS. Time and again, ISIS has killed scores of innocent human beings regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity simply because their views don’t conform to ISIS’s twisted ideology.

The Paris attack was just one of many of ISIS’s attempts to instill fear in the heart of the civilized world and to strip off its precious values of freedom, equality and justice. Yielding on any single one of these principles will bolster ISIS.

ISIS hates to see universal freedom prevail in the civilized world, where all human beings have an opportunity to honorably live the lifestyle they choose regardless of their color or creed. Adding an extra test of race or religion to guarantee that freedom will only make ISIS more successful than it already was with the Paris killings.

After the Paris massacre, the civilized world overwhelmingly outpoured its emotions, expressing solidarity with France. But it failed to show similar response to other such attacks, including the Beirut killings just a day before the Paris attacks, the downing of a Russian plane two weeks prior to that and last month’s twin bombing in Ankara.

When the civilized world values some lives more than others, it creates political and religious polarization, which feeds ISIS’s ideology of hatred and bigotry.

ISIS has no identity except barbarism, even though it hides behind religion to legitimize its inhuman actions. Sadly, many from the civilized world continue to associate ISIS with religion, arguing that ISIS claims to commit terrorism in the name of Islam. How could the witness of a bunch of criminals be so credible? Justice demands that the civilized world view Islam through the actions of millions of peaceful Muslims like the security guard who stopped ISIS’s suicide bomber from entering the Paris stadium, saving thousands of lives, or like the restaurant employee who saved the lives of two women by endangering his own during the Paris massacre.

Indeed, ISIS has waged a war against the civilized world with its full power of hatred and bigotry. The only way the civilized world can win this war is by not letting ISIS dent its resolve to stand firm with its long-cherished values of freedom, equality and justice — regardless of how hard the blow is.

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