The Blog

Our Response To This Weekend's Attacks Means Everything

If we abandon our openness, if we surrender our civil liberties, we let the terrorists win. If we yield to fear and place our country on lockdown then ISIL will keep coming and coming until we are theirs.

In among the heartening cries of solidarity and the comments of compassion following the devastating events in Paris this weekend, there has also been misplaced, reactionary idiocy. We should not close the UK's borders and we should not jump all over Islam. Here's why;

It should be instantly apparent to everyone that this is not an issue of one religion against the West. The assailants on Paris were not acting on behalf of the Muslim people. The 0.02% of the 1.6 billion people that follow Islam, of which ISIL and other terrorist organisations are comprised, act for a corrupt fundamentalism, far removed from the ideology of Muslims we share our day to day lives with.

Targeting Islam as a religion for these attacks is not only stupid, it is perilous. Pick any religion; Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, they all have fundamentalists, radicals who use their religion as a catalyst for carrying out their authoritarian acts of brutality. The Klu Klux Klan are Christians. Abinhav Bharat are Hindus. The Nazis were led by an atheist. The point is that terrorism isn't exclusive to Islam, it never has been, and it never will be.

It is also not exclusive to foreigners. The X Factor winner Sam Bailey, may have called for the UK's borders to be closed during a Twitter spat with myself on Friday night, seemingly placing all of our security threat at the feet of foreigners. However this is yet another mislaying of threat and culpability. Since then, it has emerged that at least two of the eight attackers in Paris on Friday night were French. 'The Charlie Hebdo shooters' who killed 12 people in Paris in January were French, the Canadian Parliament shooter, who ended the life of one man in Ottawa in 2014, was Canadian, and both of Lee Rigby's murderers were British, and I could go on and on and on.

Isolating ourselves will not spawn an all-encompassing, impenetrable shield over the nation, protecting us from any terror threat. Turning our back on the world, on Brits abroad and on Syrian refugees will not immunise us to Jihadist attacks. And whilst we're on the topic, this is not the fault of the Syrian refugees. The horror we saw on the familiar Western streets of Paris was an all too real example of what those very refugees have been fleeing from in their millions for months and months. If anything, we should be taking even more in.

If we abandon our openness, if we surrender our civil liberties, we let the terrorists win. If we yield to fear and place our country on lockdown then ISIL will keep coming and coming until we are theirs. This is a very real danger, with very grave consequences. We must strike the right balance between security and freedom. It is all too tempting, understandably so, to make drastic calls on the back of the unbridled massacre the world witnessed on Friday but it is genuinely imperative that our world leaders and our communities be as pragmatic as possible.

If we continue to head down the Islamophobic road that has been laid clear before us, we will make the same mistakes that will not deter but encourage these acts to happen again and again. We need to be tough on ISIL, tough on Islamism. But we also need to stop disenfranchising Muslims, none of this is in their name - let's stop making people feel isolated and in return susceptible to radicalisation.

If we fortify the scourge of right-wing xenophobia in Europe, then we reinforce ISIL's world view, and thus, validate the ideology behind their recruitment, driving potential foot soldiers in to their unloving arms. It suits them for us to turn on Islam; it suits them if we turn on 'the other'. If that happens they can peddle the myth that the West has waged war on Islam and its values, we can't allow that. That is why it is not just preferable but absolutely vital that we remain united in the face of this senseless tragedy.

We beat terror through defiance and through being more liberal and open than ever before. We must not cave in to senseless, evil, inhuman brutality. We cannot turn on our neighbours because they share the same creed as a handful of foul cockroaches causing so much damage. We must be united, the world has to band together and fight Islamism, but we have to get it right, or this will never ever end.