Trafalgar Square with French flag colours on 14th September in show of solidarity with Paris
Ït is the fifth day since ISIS claimed responsibility for the 129 deaths in Paris – in the city that they believe is “the capital of abominations and perversions”. For ISIS, there is no fixed definition of abomination and perversion as for them whatever contradicts in their way of thinking falls in the definition. But what they attacked – a life which respects freedom and celebrates diversity – does have a clear definition in our minds and we all must preserve it while responding to these attacks.
Delhi-based blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh shared a poem on social media which became very popular as it talked about the world, the humanity and ‘everyone’. President Obama rightly called it ‘an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share’. German chancellor Merkel has called for a collective response to these attacks as ‘we are all targets, and it affects all of us’. Some however may not agree with this line of thinking, as can be seen in this tweet.
The problem with Murdock’s theory is that it gives credence to the view propagated by ISIS that the West is anti-Muslim and the theory of human rights advocated here is a sham. It also alienates our possible, natural allies – people who are victims of ISIS rule in their strongholds and surrounding areas. Moreover, It alienates many citizens of other Muslim-dominated countries who aspire to the same common values of democracy and freedom in their countries, which ISIS abhors.
Iain Martin has rightly identified in his blog that the victims of Paris attacks were ‘young people at a rock concert, people on the fringes of a football match, [and] diners finishing the week with friends and family’. However, by counting democracy, free speech, free association, the rule of law and prosperity as pillars of only ‘Western civilisation’, Martin takes us on a dangerous road where we forget that the men and women living in Beirut, Baghdad, Islamabad and Palestinian territories enjoy all these activities as much as we do in the West. The only difference is that they have shisha bars and qahwa cafes in place of pubs and clubs. In the end we all enjoy – and ISIS wants to take away our joys.
The Paris Attacks should not make us less freer or less humane. They should be used as an opportunity to find our common ground rather than losing it to the terrorists. They should not be used to close our doors for genuine refugees who are running from our common enemy. They should certainly not be used to give more powers to the authorities without proper checks and meaningful judicial oversight. If we do any of this, we do what the terrorists want us to do.
If we want to win this fight against extremism, we need to celebrate more of what our common enemy hates. We need to prove for ourselves that the human rights and freedoms we attained after years of struggle are strong enough to stand the menace of terrorism. At the same time, we need to use all the resources to promote our shared values and freedoms across the world, rather than shrink them at home. Finally, the only way to win this war is by valuing our friends – the ordinary citizens on the street of Muslim-dominated countries – not alienating them by siding with oppressive regimes they live under.