The massacre of 17 Parisians between Jan. 7 – 9 dealt a harrowing wound to the world psyche.
Events of this nature bring in their wake a period of acute rawness and mobilization that have powerful effects on their pertaining regions. The instinct in these horrific situations is reactionary, as governments and peoples scramble to compensate for the institutional weaknesses they perceive responsible for their vulnerability.
Such was the case in the United States after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, where an act of terrorism gave rise to the Patriot Act, expansion of executive authority and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since the Parisian murders, the French government, to secure domestic safety, has deployed thousands of French military personal and police. Both the French government and people are voicing calls for aggressive action against radical Islam and more comprehensive counter-terrorism efforts. Yet amid the bitter anguish is a profound sense of solidarity. On Jan. 11. more than a million people marched in a unity rally in Paris, according to BBC. Leading the march were 40 world leaders hailing from countries as diverse as Palestine, Turkey and Spain. Millions more marched in towns all over France, many bearing the now iconic slogan “Je suis Charlie” in honor of the journalists slain at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo.
Rumblings of Anti-Islamic sentiment in Western Europe, and notably Dresden and other eastern German cities have erupted into anti immigrants and anti Islamic rallies, according to the Huffington Post. These demonstrations of intolerance are insidious and can bring disaster if they attain popularity, as was seen in Nazi Germany. Reactionary hate and paranoia are two of the worst scourges of human judgment; they must be kept at bay.
In these times of tragedy it is critical that the global community proceeds prudently. Calamities such as the recent Parisian massacre and the less covered slaughter in Nigeria set a dynamic mood for action. This has the potential to change the trajectory of a society, and it must be directed responsibly.
A tragedy of such magnitude is cause for serious re-evaluation, especially in the realm of terrorist attacks, which have evolved considerably since the War on Terror began. The centrally planned schemes of a younger Al Qaeda are now less common. Homegrown terrorism and loosely coordinated attacks staged by small groups have become the norm, as was seen with the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013. Governments and counter terrorism agencies need to adapt to this by vesting their energies into battling radical ideology, not waging occupational wars in countries that have high concentrations of terrorist organizations, as the U.S and international groups like NATO have done in the last decade. Neither should religious or ethnic minorities be subjected to laws that designate them on the basis of such classifications.
The use of social media in terrorist recruitment poses a major problem. Terrorists can launch their agendas with a simple social media account. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has utilized this to an astounding effect by drawing thousands to join in their campaign to create a caliphate in the Middle Eastern region known as the Levant through various social media outlets according to The New York Times.
Since the Paris killings, French authorities have openly discussed instituting more intensive monitoring of social media and email accounts of individuals and groups suspected of terrorist activity, and curtailing French citizens from traveling to Syria and Iraq to participate in the militant incursions there. Greater vigilance on the Part of French intelligence agencies is wise, they should aim to be able to detect violent plots and thwart them. They must however maintain restraint, hyper sensitive and overreaching intelligence polices can create a rift between government and citizens which exacerbates domestic problems; as the U.S.’s recent NSA scandal has demonstrated.
Measures to prevent future killing sprees are paramount, but they shouldn’t trample civil liberties. How can a nation whose identity rests on pillars of tolerance and free speech devise laws that combats hate speech and radical organizations without abridging personal liberties and subjecting certain groups to discriminatory treatment? Only by thoughtfully containing violence, and not suppressing or punishing speech that is inflammatory or controversial. If speech doesn’t directly threaten violence, than it should be lawful.
Despite the foggy nature of Western terrorism policies, what constituents terrorism and how it should be countered, individuals, regardless of creed, ethnicity, nationality or culture should be welcomed into the fold of mankind, if they are committed to peace and coexistence. Terrorism isn’t the by-product of religions like Islam or Middle Eastern cultures; it is wanton violence. This should be the basis of which civilized societies are contingent upon. This should be a premise of their security laws and calculated into their judgment. The horror and devastation of terrorism should be handled in a pensive and sober manner.