Close to 500 of us are standing together in unity on a cold November evening outside the University of Sheffield's Student Union as we listen attentively to the SU president, Christy McMorrow during the candlelight vigil for the victims of the terror attacks by ISIS in Paris, Lebanon and Baghdad that had taken place in that past week. We're all different as individuals, have different backgrounds, accents, religious beliefs, yet the fundamental quality we share in that moment was that we stand against terrorism and want peace, and we stand together for those who are unable to have peace. In that very moment, the most substantial thing any one of us could offer and have is hope, which makes this incredible significant impact as we all stood together in solidarity.
Christy touched on a very important, significant point during his speech "They say they are for Muslims, but that is what they want. They want to divide us to turn against each other" and then it dawns on me - Of course, propelling the idea of a religious agenda is exactly what they want and is exactly what they're achieving.
Flash forward four months later.
Last week, Brussels was unfortunately hit by terror attacks by ISIS which echoed the same devastation faced by humanity. In Dublin, a wall was sprayed with graffiti saying "All Muslims are scum" and other horrific acts of racial abuse towards Muslims continue to go on since 9/11.
Isolating an entire religion due to the acts of few individuals and constantly making them feel like an out group is precisely what they need. If you constantly make someone feel attacked, isolated, unworthy and unfairly treated due to their own personal religious beliefs which have been tainted by corrupt minded terrorists then they have no option but to go to somewhere where they feel accepted and wanted. And this can lead some into the wrong hands.
They mask over their motives with religion because they are aware people will then attempt to ostracise those of that religion, so who else will they have to turn to? To join groups that state they're fighting back against the western world and provide them with acceptance. And how have the westerners who have spurred this racial abuse made themselves look? Like attackers, the enemy. Leaving the cycle of hate to only continue.
Once we are divided we fall apart. We can't achieve peace as people if we are against one another and not moving in the same direction. That means in order for us as individuals to tackle terrorism in our daily lives, we have to rise above the hate and anger and move in the direction of peace. It is not fair to blame someone's religious beliefs, background, ethnicity, etc. for the actions of a selected few who share that when they are completely different people trying to live their own lives just like yourself.