By Somi Jun
Print Managing Editor
Mass shootings and bombings, in a city where residents once felt safe from terrorism. Panic, crippling worry, and grief about friends and family in the area at the time of the attack. Full hospitals and nationwide terror about attacks that could descend at any time.
For the past 24 hours, this has been a picture of Paris, terrorized by an attack that has left over 120 people dead.
For the past 24 hours, this has been a picture of Beirut, Lebanon, terrorized by an attack that has left over 200 people seriously wounded.
For the past five years, this has been a picture of Syria, terrorized by a civil war that has left over 200,000 people dead and 12 million displaced.
The international shock and grief over what happened in Paris yesterday is the result of empathy for the people attacked. But it is also the result of Americans’ own sense of safety being disrupted, because we couldn’t imagine that a country in the western world could be terrorized in such a way. We felt safe within our bubble of western comfort, despite the atrocities happening in Syria and its neighboring countries against families and children worth just as much as the victims in Paris. And now we don’t. We no longer feel safe. Our grief for Paris is equal parts empathy and fear about our own spheres of comfort being disrupted.
As we watch the events in Paris unfold and the investigation of ISIS’s role in the attack, we need to remember that ISIS originally stood for the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” For ISIS and other fundamentalist groups, the attacks in Paris and abroad are secondary to the terror they are inflicting on people within their home countries. This fear we are feeling now is only a fraction of what residents in the Middle East have been experiencing for the past several years, since ISIS’s rise in power around 2013 and for the entire duration of multiple civil wars, including the one in Syria as well as in Lebanon.
Yes, let us pray for Paris. But let us also pray for all victims of fundamentalist attacks, including Parisians, the people in the Middle East experiencing terror every day, the Muslims around the world who may face backlash as a result of this attack, the refugees who are already facing backlash from European politicians and who are trying to escape this very terror that we are just now tasting.