It goes without saying that the attacks that transpired in Paris will go down in history as one of the worst France has seen since World War II. With at least 130 civilian casualties and over 350 injured, the attacks are the worst Europe has experienced since the train bombings that took place in Madrid, Spain in 2004. To say that the Paris attacks have affected the world would be an understatement of epic proportions but, while we all grieve for Paris in the wake of such terrorism, it is important to remember that ISIS does not represent Islam as a whole, and innocent Muslims should not be viewed in the same light as the attackers from Paris.
With all of the hatred being spewed by Donald Trump following the tragedies of Nov. 13, the majority of America seems to be forgetting one simple fact: ISIS is not a representative of Islam. Though there is no exact number for the extremist group’s membership, estimates range from anywhere between 20,000 to over 200,000. Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with over 1.5 billion practitioners, and that number is growing every year. That means that ISIS represents .013 percent of Islam at most, but men like Trump seem to think that all Muslims should be held accountable for the militant groups actions.
We are all familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, the “Baptist” church that is known for picketing the funerals of American military personnel with their hate speech. If ISIS is being viewed as a representative of Islam, shouldn’t the Westboro Baptist Church be viewed as a figurehead for Christians throughout the United States? The membership of Westboro sits at around 40, and the worldwide population for Christians, the largest religion in the world, is over 2.1 billion. Without doing the math, it is plain to see that Westboro makes up an infinitesimal amount of the worldwide Christian population. But, if it makes sense to hold all Muslims accountable for the acts of ISIS, doesn’t it make sense to hold all Christians accountable for the acts of Westboro? Of course not, but hate-mongers like Trump don’t take the time to think of it that way because that’s not what the majority wants to hear.
Rather than concocting asinine excuses to encourage hate, like requiring all Muslims to register in a database or carry special “identification,” we need to come to terms with the truth: ISIS is not Islam, and we cannot make the mistake of assuming that all Muslims are violent. In September, before the attacks ever took place in Paris, Reza Aslan went on CNN to address this very concept. Aslan, a religious scholar and professor from UC Riverside explained that Islam does not encourage violence.
“Islam doesn’t promote violence or peace,” Aslan said. “Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you’re violent, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism, is going to be violent.”
Islam does not make people violent, but it is always assumed and insinuated that this is the case. If anything, it is the people that make Islam violent, and the same kind of people make Christianity violent as well. We have to keep this in mind as we move forward as a world-wide community and as a people.