It was supposed to be a happy end of the week as Parisians thronged public places for a fun night out. All hell broke loose when explosions and shootings rocked Paris at six different places – outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany, Bataclan concert venue and Petit Cambodge restaurant to name the few.
It was a well-planned attack as all these places are known for their busy nightlife. The deaths were immediate due to the crowded localities. AFP initially reported 18 dead and more than 100 held hostage. The numbers increased rapidly to 39 with hundreds still trapped inside Bataclan concert venue.
As the situation developed, one survivor remembered it as ‘a bloodbath’, recounting how terrorists remained calm and silent, killing people one by one. Other accounts narrated how terrorists shouted “Allahu Akbar” while firing directly at civilians. Police action killed all the terrorists, ending the siege but it was too late – 112 people had lost their lives in Bataclan alone, CNN reported.
At least 128 people are dead and 180 have been injured in the deadly attacks.
Condemnation and messages of peace started pouring from all over the world as humanity mourned the cruelty of the attackers.
While no one has officially taken responsibility of the attacks, ISIS accounts on social media were quick to celebrate under the Arabic hashtag translated as ‘Paris in flames’.
French President, Francois Hollande has declared it ‘an act of war by ISIS’ while announcing three-day mourning.
World leaders were quick to condemn the attacks, calling it a war against humanity.
Obama, in a statement called it an “outrageous attempt to terrorize civilians."
"Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes," Putin said.
"I am shocked by events in Paris tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help,” tweeted David Cameron.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed deep shock, sympathizing with France.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani said, "I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government."
Saudi Arabia also condemned the attack, emphasizing the ‘need to eradicate dangerous threats.’
While condemnations are coming, a debate has once again started on social media regarding the culprits of the attack and who must be held accountable.
Far-right in West puts the blame on whole Muslim world, calling it the consequence of refugee influx. Western Left condemns the attacks and extremist religious ideology behind them but acquits the refugees of being the culprits, by rightly pointing out this is the evil they were escaping from in Syria.
Muslim world, on the other hand, keeps clinging on to the rotten narrative of ‘terrorism has no religion’ and ‘terrorists don’t represent true Islam’.
Let’s see for ourselves if it’s just a bunch of extremists or the ideology has been embedded in the entire Muslim world.
Reuters reported last year that atheists face death sentences in 13 countries, all of which are Muslim.
Rokhsana, an Afghan woman was stoned to death last week in Afghanistan due to her refusal to forcibly marry someone. Such laws are part of Iran Penal Code which explains the full procedure of stoning.
151 people were executed in Saudi Arabia this year, which according to Amnesty International is the highest in last two decades. Raif Badawi, a Saudi free-thinker has been awarded flogging sentence due to his blogs. Mohammed al-Nimr, a 20 – years old Shia boy has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for participating in anti-Kingdom Arab Spring Protests.
The situation is equally worse in Iran where two poets were sentenced to whipping for ‘shaking hands with opposite sex.’
In Bangladesh, systematic lynching of atheist and secularist bloggers has become a norm as others fear death.
Coming to Pakistan, Council of Islamic Ideology wants to discuss whether Ahmadis are just non-Muslims or apostates. Ahmadis live in an environment of fear where they are unable to even practice their religion. Shias regularly face wrath of the Sunni majority as evident in two major bomb blasts during Muharram processions. Fear has again gripped Quetta as members of Hazara community are being targeted in a fresh wave of targeted killing.
The Lal Masjid cleric, a known law-offender who has publicly pledged his allegiance with ISIS roams around freely in the capital, announcing a fresh start of his Sharia campaign.
If all these events don’t point towards the extremist mindset embedded in the Muslim society today, ask 10 people randomly about Mumtaz Qadri and majority would term him a hero – if not all.
Muslim world, on the whole is drenched with intolerant extremists following the literalist and fundamental version of Islam.
The fundamental mistake committed by Muslims all over the world is statements like 'Terrorism has no religion', 'Terrorists don't represent Islam'. Rather than being in denial and delusional, let's accept the fact that these terrorists ARE Muslims and they DO represent an interpretation of Islam – which most Muslims reject.
Neither equating the whole Islamic world with terrorism, nor giving sweeping statements, acquitting it from the responsibility, is the solution. Islam needs a reformation and Muslims need to be educated about changing world realities and evolving societies.
West, on the other hand must realize that invading countries for the actions of few is not a viable solution, for it only helps radicalize more minds. A global effort to rewrite the anti-terrorism narrative is need of the hour too.