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The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Paris Attacks

The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Paris Attacks


A picture associated with #prayforparis


For anyone keeping up with the latest world news, you will know about the recent attacks by ISIS, as well as the current Syrian refugee crisis. While the ISIS attacks are undeniably horrific, there are still many details we have yet to discover about the specifics of them, which has created the controversial topic involving the refugees.

      The Islamic terrorist group ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) began as an al Qaeda splinter group (a splinter group is a small organization, typically a political party, that has broken away from a larger one), whose purpose is to create an Islamic State called a caliphate, which refers to a form of Islamic government that is led by a caliph (a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, who is the leader of the entire Muslim community). The leader of ISIS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (its leader since May 2010, who is also referred to as Abu Du'a), but the man who led the attacks on Paris is said to be Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a close friend of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Abaaoud is said to have revisited the sites of the attacks in person (this information was found using the information from Abaaoud’s phone), and was present at the Bataclan theatre during the military siege, where he and two other gunmen shot and killed 89 people (others were injured), but were killed immediately after. The attacks occurred in four other places as well: outside a bar near Stade de France stadium, a restaurant La Belle Equipe on Rue de Charonne, a restaurant Le Petit Cambodge, and Le Carillon, a bar-cafe. All of these attacks on Paris have sparked the media hashtag #prayforparis that has spread across all social media websites across the world, including (but not limited to) Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. In Philadelphia, hundreds came out to support the Parisians by holding a vigil in Love Park in memory for all those who had died.



love park vigil.JPG

An image from the Love Park vigil                     



A candle vigil that took place in Paris


All of the attacks on Paris, in addition to the threats on a number of other countries, has created a tense situation involving the refugees fleeing from Turkey and Jordan. While there are a number of people supporting the movement trying to bring the refugees to America, 31 states (and counting) have already closed their doors to them. The reasons behind this are plausible. There’s a fear of the country’s security checks not being reliable, or terrorists smuggling themselves into the country, the possibility of bombings, as well as similar attacks taking place. But closing our borders has also left the innocent refugees exposed to the same monsters we’re afraid of facing ourselves. 12 million Syrians have fled their homes- half of them are children. Should these children suffer because we’re afraid of the terrorists in their country? Should the elderly suffer? Can we morally refuse these refugees because of what their fellow citizens do? Is it their fault if one of their family members joins the rebels? These are the difficult questions we must eventually answer by our actions.

      Those against the acceptance of the refugees have stated their concerns. Now, legally, a state cannot refuse to allow a refugee through their borders, but they can refuse to cooperate, making the task much harder. In a letter written to President Obama, Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, said "American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger". He spoke out about the fear that our sympathy toward the refugees could backfire and cause ISIS to retaliate. The governors who spoke out on the subject were mainly concerned for the people in their state.

      Those in favor of welcoming the refugees have given reasons why allowing the refugees into the U.S. would be beneficial to us. They argue that the refugees could bring a lot of knowledge to the States, and could be useful in building up the economy. There are several organizations that help young refugees to educate themselves, including The Karam Foundation that works with high school students in Reyhanli, Turkey. They have smaller organizations within The Karam Foundation such as Zeitouna, “a creative therapy and wellness program for displaced Syrian children”. The also have the TOMAR (Turkish Language Proficiency) Program that gives young girls and boys the opportunity to prepare to take the TOMAR exam that allows them to attend Turkish Universities. There are many organizations like these that are trying to educate the youth all over Asia, including the countries that share borders with Syria (Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon). There’s a program by the name of the International Rescue Committee, that helps to resettle refugees all over the world.  In addition, the refugees could provide economic support "At the local level, refugees provide increased demand for goods and services through their new purchasing power and can be particularly revitalizing in communities that otherwise have a declining population." (quote taken from U.S. News article title Refugees: Economic Boon or Burden?) The refugees could also teach others the Turkish language, perhaps even helping the government in future surveillance of terrorists and rebels across Turkish-speaking countries. With America being the land of opportunities, there are thousands of possibilities for the refugees, and that should be taken into account when deciding to grant them sanctuary.

      Of course, there will always be risks when bringing in any kind of refugees, but we already know what kind of atrocities take place in foreign countries controlled by terrorist groups such as ISIS, the Taliban, the Quds Force (a special unit of Iran's Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Revolutionary Guard), and has been described as "tasked with exporting" Iran's Islamic revolution), Kataib Hezbollah (a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western establishment and jihadist ideology that has conducted attacks against Iraqi, U.S, and Coalition targets in Iraq), The Haqqani Network (a guerilla insurgent group using asymmetric warfare to fight against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan), to lists a few; and yet we consider denying these innocent people refuge from these monsters. It will be an important decision to make, but we must ask ourselves what we would ask for if it were us trying to flee our country looking for a safe haven.

(These are some videos of how people around the world reacted to the Paris attacks, and some eyewitness accounts) (names of the victims in Paris)

(All of these links are full of information on these topics if you’re looking for more information, as well as some ways you can help these refugees)




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