BY GENEVIEVE KURTZ
On Nov. 13, the beloved city of Paris was hit by a series of strategic terrorist attacks, leaving at least 129 people dead and many more injured. While this shocked and devastated people all over the world, the repercussions from the attacks are now being faced globally—and at home.
These terrorist strikes came only months after the January attack in Paris on cartoonists of the humor magazine Charlie Hebdo. This time, however, the victims of the attacks were indiscriminate—the terrorists targeted a soccer stadium, a local theater venue and various bars and restaurants.
At a time of chaos, uncertainty and pain, it is easy to point fingers and blame others in order to create a sense of clarity.
Though the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks, people are oversimplifying the situation by blaming Muslims and Muslim refugees as a whole.
Governors of over two dozen states in the U.S. are asserting they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states, neglecting the fact that this would be a federal decision over which they have no authority.
Some political leaders, like Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush have even suggested only letting in Christian refugees from Syria, refusing Muslims.
Even Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan (R), who typically tries to avoid partisan battles, announced Tuesday that he is “requesting that federal authorities cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland” until it is proven that the refugees pose no threat to public safety.
What these governors and their supporters fail to acknowledge is that the refugees themselves are often victims of the same kind of terrorism experienced in Paris.
Salisbury University student Hawari Abdalla came to the U.S. as a Sudanese refugee in 2008. Before coming to Salisbury, where he started attending classes at UMES before transferring to SU, he spent time in Malaysia and various states within the U.S.
Though he has never personally felt like a foreigner in America, and always feels safe in Salisbury, he claims that Muslims in the Salisbury community worry about facing harassment, especially for the women who choose to wear hijabs or headscarves.
Abdalla noted that one thing people fail to understand is that there is a difference between immigrants and refugees. He stresses that refugees have no option to return to their home countries. These refugees in Syria and Iraq are running from ISIS and “are crossing the Mediterranean into Europe to save their lives.”
It is unfair to equate the refugees—who face dangerous and often deadly journeys leaving their place of birth to find safe asylum for themselves and their families—to the acts of terrorism being carried out by violent religious extremists who do not in any way embody the ideals of Islam.
As for the governors who are against letting Syrian refugees into the U.S., Abdalla maintains that “we can’t judge four million refugees because of one or two bad ones. It’s stupid to say that we cannot receive refugees.”
Instead of shutting out Muslim refugees and discriminating against them because of their faith, we should be helping them flee from the violence they face at home. By generalizing that all Muslims are bad or violent, we are ignoring the real problems at hand.
This country is an immigrant nation that claims to uphold values of diversity, equality and unity.
Rather than abandoning these values, we should be doing everything in our power to provide for those refugees who are affected by the current humanitarian crisis happening across the Mediterranean.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that these refugees are victims—not U.S. enemies.