Are refugees to blame? Of course not.

[Please be aware that the our knowledge of the attacks continues to be updated with new information. This article is limited to what we knew at the time of publication. Please continue to stay up-to-date with news sources that are publishing live updates.]

The attacks in Paris last night shocked the world. People like to believe that battles are fought overseas in places we never have to go to. However, this is not the case. The attacks in Paris illuminate the reality that conflict indeed occurs on our doorstep, yet it is insidious and more difficult to see until something so grave brings it to light.

Credit: BBC News
Credit: BBC News

Here are the facts that we know so far.1 In the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings, Paris is now the conflict zone. Attacks at six sites have left a known 127 dead. The attack at the Bataclan concert hall was the deadliest. At the sold out show, gunmen burst into the hall and took hostages while firing at the crowd. Security forces intervened but not before 80 were killed.

The other five attacks took place at restaurants and bars across Paris. Gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs targeted three restaurants and one bar within the center of the city. At La Belle Equipe, 19 have been declared dead. At Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at least 12 were killed. At La Casa Nostra restaurant, 5 have died in the gun attacks. The last attack occurred just north of Paris at the Stade de France, where President Hollande and 80,000 spectators were watching a friendly match between France and Germany. A reported suicide blast killed three attackers.

President Hollande has declared a national state of emergency.2 He holds the Islamic State responsible for the attacks, which we currently know to be carried out by eight gunmen and suicide bombers. The Guardian3 just reported that the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in an official statement. The statement claims they were a response to the airstrikes by France on Islamic State-held territories.

Credit: Jean Jullien
Credit: Jean Jullien

However, an initial reaction by many used the refugee crisis to explain the attacks .4 Through social media, Congressman Jeff Duncan stated, “How’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe? Terrorism is alive & well in the world.” Suzanne Evans declared, “Does France closing borders imply terrorists are not ‘home grown’ but incomers taking advantage of current migrant crisis?” These statements imply that the refugee crisis made France a ripe breeding ground for violence. People claim that refugees are what brought this conflict to our doorstep, and without them we would not have suffered something so horrific.

This is a grave misjudgment. Dan Holloway aptly summarized how misguided this sentiment is: “To people blaming refugees for attacks in Paris tonight. Do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from..?” Indeed, pointing fingers at those who are vulnerable cannot be the answer for the atrocities in Paris last night. Refugees are the victims as well.

Megan Erickson, Staff Writer







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