The tragic attacks in Paris have seen an unfortunate consequence for Syrian refugees, as others who are fleeing ISIL in their droves. The public in Western societies are trained to be reactive to immediate situations and have a sheep-like response when fed a diatribe of fear from our media outlets.
Many were moved when pictures emerged of young Syrian kids washing up on beaches, prompting much soul-searching with a collective self-examination asking, ‘what kind of world do we live in where this is allowed to happen’. But unfortunately the likes of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi is now but a distant memory, which should come as no surprise in the 24-hour-cycle news world we live in today.
What we find most disappointing is the reported attacks on immigrant communities, which are believed to be related to the Paris attacks, and a notable upturn in anti-refugee feelings, despite the attacks being perpetrated by homegrown elements.
What people can’t lose sight of is that there is a monumental humanitarian crisis going on at present, which is the consequence of Western intervention in the Middle East region. The brunt of that has been met from Turkey and Lebanon. The overspill of this needs to be met by Europe and these attacks can’t distract us from the moral contract we have to look after human beings fleeing from a war zone.
France has suffered one day of what Syrians have lived for the last five years but if anything these attacks should widen our arms when welcoming the refugees fleeing these terrorists – to turn our backs on them is exactly what ISIL and those who facilitate them want. As Martin Luther King once said, ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’
The attacks in Paris are a challenge to us all in Ireland. We’re a nation known for our charitable nature and with our own history of fleeing repression we have to leave the reactionary misgivings of others behind. We should not let them deter us from our obligations towards our Syrian brothers and sisters in what remains their hour of need.