Prayer Is Not Enough


© AP

The following is an Opinion-Editorial.

On Friday night, eight men armed with automatic rifles and strapped with explosives made a series of coordinated attacks on the city of Paris. The attacks killed 129 people and injured 352 more. Members of ISIS used social media to claim responsibility for the attack, stating that their actions were revenge for French airstrikes in Syria.

The actions of these terrorists were despicable. They directly targeted civilians in order to maximize casualties, and their sole purpose was to create fear, chaos, and destruction. People around the world have voiced their support for Paris, starting hashtags such as #peaceforparis, #parisisaboutlife, and #prayforparis.

Prayer however, is not enough. Extremists have just used a warped interpretation of religion to justify the murder of innocent civilians. This should serve as a warning that while important to so many, religion can be a dangerous thing when interpreted poorly. Right now it is actions, not thoughts of prayer, that will help Paris and the rest of the free world to move forward from this devastation.

The actions we take now, both as individuals and as a country, will have profound and lasting effects. First and foremost, we must remember that it was a small group of extremists who carried out these attacks, and that they are in no way representative of Islam as a whole. Discrimination or hate directed towards muslims would not only be unethical, illegal, and morally wrong, but it would also only serve to worsen the problem. ISIS wants nothing more than the downfall of democratic values and ideals, and so central to democracy is the idea that everyone should be treated as equals. If we treat any group badly we would be lessening the strength of democracy, and in fact furthering ISIS’s agenda.

French President Francois Hollande stated that this attack was an “act of war” by the Islamic State. France’s response will have a big impact on the future of the world. We must remember that ISIS itself sprung up out of the chaos created in Iraq after President George W. Bush went to war in response to Al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center. The nations of the world should exercise prudence in deciding what courses of action to take (or to not take) moving forward. Terrorist groups thrive in fractured countries, and the last thing the Middle East needs right now is more instability.

Pray for paris if you like, but remember that our actions can have great effects. Go out and participate in the democracy that we are so lucky to have, but act with care and treat others, no matter what group they belong to, as equals. The motto of the French Republic is Liberté, égalité, fraternité, and the only way terrorists can succeed is by destroying these ideals. So I ask you to support Paris not only by praying, but by ensuring that liberty, equality, and fraternity will always prevail.