Refugees, Victims NOT Perpetrators

Editor's Note: The opinions presented in this blog belong to the writer and do not represent those of Her Campus-MSU or Her Campus National as a whole.  

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, people around the world have been shaken with fear. The attacks on Paris, where 130 people were killed, according to CNN, took place at various locations throughout the city, including: a soccer arena, a concert venue and various restaurants and bars. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for these attacks; suicide bombers and terrorists with ties to the extremist group detonated bombs and randomly shot at civilians throughout the city.

ISIS facilitated another attack that received little media attention, just a day before the attacks on Paris, according to the NY Times. On Nov. 12 in Beirut, Lebanon, two suicide bombers targeted one of the city’s busiest shopping districts, killing 43 people and wounding over 239 people.

Although it seems obvious that world’s enemy at the moment should be ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), an extremist militant group that uses the tactic of terrorizing people to gain power, many have put the blame for the two attacks on refugees instead.

However, according to CNN, the attacks in Beirut and the attacks in Paris do not have any ties to refugees.

So why are refugees being targeted? Ignorance, heartlessness and maybe even a result of memory-loss.

If people knew the truth behind the refugee situation, they may not be so quick to turn them away. For example, according to encounteringislam.org, 93% of Muslims are completely against any sort of extremist beliefs and actions, particularly ISIS and their previous or future attacks. Much of this is due to Muslims themselves being the main target of these extremist groups, which many non-Muslims don’t understand.

My best friend is Muslim, and unlike what many seem to believe of Muslims, my friend and her family are more loving and peaceful than any other non-Muslim people I have ever met. I have never felt more loved and cared for in my life, and the idea that someone would want to send my friend and her family back to Syria is disgusting to me. Their family has been a victim of the outrageous actions of these extremist groups before; I do not think one could handle half of the truth of what they have been through.

Not to mention, did we so quickly forget the horror that was the Holocaust? At the time of the Holocaust, we were just as guilty as the perpetrators. For example, there is the case of the St. Louis. The St. Louis was a large ocean liner that carried approximately 937 Jews who were trying to flee death by the Third Reich. They first sailed to Cuba and were denied.  After being denied entrance into Cuba, they sailed to Florida and were again denied. They were ultimately sent back to Germany, put into concentration camps and killed.

Remembering the Holocaust and reflecting upon our actions at that time, we vouched, as a country, to never allow this to happen again. We would never let history repeat itself in this way. Yet, isn’t this exactly what we are doing right now?

This is comparable to the life of these refugees in Syria. Is this not as true of a death sentence as the one that the concentration camps gave? Is this not a place of hate, murder, fear, terrorism and discrimination?

President Barack Obama declared in a press conference earlier this week that the refugees are no more of a threat than tourists, and he declared that the refugee entry-banning plans of many politicians are preposterous. Yet, NBC News even still announced on Nov. 20 that the House of Representatives decided, after a majority vote, to put a halt on the Refugee Resettlement Program.

This is stifling to me, as our country was founded as place where anyone could come to find freedom. I’ve always known our country to be a melting pot of immigrants from around the world that came here to seek a better life, just like my great grandparents that came here from Poland and England. Has the Statue of Liberty not always been a symbol of this freedom?

However, even after the gruesome attacks in Paris last week, according to ABC News, the President of France, Francois Hollande, made a heartfelt promise to be committed to accepting these refugees stating, “France will remain a country of freedom.”

I believe that by banning these refugees, we are helping ISIS, not standing against them. I believe that everyone, if they were in the situation that the refugees are in now, would be crying for help. I disagree with banning these human beings from freedom in our country, simply because we are afraid of having what happened in Paris and Beirut to happen here. No one should have to go through what they are going through, and we are the ones who will determine their fate. We have the power to do what is right.

So I will leave you with this post-Holocaust quote that pertains to the current refugee crisis:

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”