Three Ways to Respond to the Paris Attacks

Let us remedy this cancer of extremism with love and tolerance for each other.

Once again, the world has watched horror unfold in Paris, with multiple attacks killing more than hundred people — and this less than a year after the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Today more than ever, I feel as if my faith has compelled me to stand united with France against its war on terrorism. In the Qur’an, the Islamic scripture, God says that killing one person is like killing the entirety of mankind (5:33). The killings in Paris are an act of monstrosity and they have nothing to do with Islam — a faith that promotes love and peace for all.

In the days to come, France and its people will grieve over this tragedy and nothing anyone says can lessen the pain of losing loved ones. But as much as I sympathize with their grief, I must urge France to act with compassion and reason as they react to this militant attack. We must not let terrorists blind us from seeing the full truth.

Here are some ways we can assure that reason and compassion prevail over everything:

1. Don’t believe everything in the media.

At times of great tragedies, the media tends to report conflicting information because journalists are eager to disseminate information. As a former journalist, I understand breaking news events can create fervor and competition within news organizations. Therefore, people everywhere should remain vigilant of any bias or contradictions presented in the media — especially in times like the attacks in Paris when everything is happening all at once. Look for the facts and remain calm. Don’t assume and don’t judge until you have all the facts.

2. Separate grief from reason.

Grief is a very natural phenomenon, but it should never hinder us from seeing the truth. In the coming days, it is possible that some people in France might act irrationally toward Muslims. My plea to these people is that before they reach the point of committing violence, they should try to separate their grief from reason.

Yes, what happened in France is an atrocity and all over the world innocent people will feel the pain of this attack. But we must not let our emotions control us in a way that may compel us to commit atrocities against one another. While I urge French people to remain calm, I also urge French Muslims to come forward and show empathy to their fellow citizens. In this time of grief, let us be united so we can show the terrorists that violence can never win over love and compassion.

3. Move forward with a positive attitude.

While it is completely acceptable to mourn this tragedy in the coming days, it is equally important that we remain optimistic and hopeful. The Western world prides itself on its values of diversity and freedom — our biggest strength against terrorism. In the wake of this tragedy, France must not allow the continued marginalization of its Muslim community.

Instead, the government should make it clear to the public that the fight against terrorism is not a fight against Islam. French Muslims should also offer their full support to the government when it comes to fighting insurgent groups at home, as well as abroad. Only through mutual cooperation can we hope to attain peace.

*   *   *

Regardless of our faith and ethnicities, let us unite together in our grief. And as we mourn the murder of innocent people, let us show the world that we are better than the terrorists who know nothing of love and compassion. The Quran says, “Let there always be among you a body of men who invites goodness and forbids evil. And it is they who shall prosper” ( 3:105).

Terrorism has no religion. Let us remedy this cancer of extremism with love and tolerance for each other.

Image courtesy of Furyk Nazar /

Huma Munir
Written by