In the wake of the Paris attacks that killed 129 people last Friday, there's been a lot of Islamophobia and xenophobia on display. Much of this has occurred in the form of hostility toward Syrian refugees.
But France is showing the world how to move forward from such tragedies by not allowing fear to cloud its judgment and commitment to humanitarianism. It's still going to accept refugees. In fact, France is going to accept even more refugees than it previously committed to.
In September, French President Francois Hollande said France would accept 24,000 Syrian refugees, but that number has now increased.
On Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande stated,
France will remain a country of freedom. 30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment.
Hollande acknowledged people's trepidations surrounding refugees but contended it was France's "humanitarian duty" to assist them.
The French president also highlighted the fact all refugees will go through security checks. He said,
I know your worries... We also have to verify people who are coming onto the European territory and into France to make sure there are zero risks for our country. So we will be executing necessary verification before accepting any refugees onto our soil. That's how we will ensure the security of France while staying true to our values.
President Hollande is setting a strong example for countries unwilling to assist refugees. He's also making American politicians who don't want the US to accept refugees look like fools (but they didn't need a whole lot of help in that regard).
Following the Paris attacks, 31 governors in the US (all but one are Republicans) stated they would refuse to accept Syrian refugees in their states.
This is ludicrous for a number of reasons. Firstly, governors don't have the legal authority to deny refugees entry, it's the president's prerogative.
The American governors taking a stance against refugees are engaging in a pathetic form of political theater to pander to pockets of discriminatory individuals in their states.
Moreover, the vast majority of refugees pose no real danger to anyone. They are trying to escape terrorism, not bring it with them.
These are people in a terrible situation: they're fleeing war, persecution, violence and destruction, and searching for a semblance of peace and stability.
ISIS, which is a prime culprit in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Blaming refugees for the attacks makes no sense whatsoever, given they are trying to get as far away from ISIS (and Assad) as possible.
It's true there was a Syrian passport found near the dead body of one of the Paris attackers, but French authorities confirmed that passport was fake.
There's also the fact none of the attackers were Syrian.
So to be clear: None of the 5 Paris attackers identified so far is Syrian. https://t.co/MB5UVNPZFS https://t.co/5ROjVfdBXf — Anne Barnard (@ABarnardNYT) November 18, 2015
The fake passport was either stolen or copied and contained the name of a Syrian soldier who died a while ago, Ahmad al-Mohammad. There's also evidence multiple people are using the same fake passport (with the same name).
Some theorize the attackers deliberately planted the passport to incite fear and anger against refugees. On Tuesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said,
There are indications that this was a planted lead, but it still can't be ruled out that this was indeed an IS terrorist posing as a refugee.
In many ways, this makes a lot of sense as ISIS absolutely despises refugees and wants to do whatever it can to hurt them.
Why would a jihadist who expressly rejects all notions of modern citizenship take his passport on a suicide mission? So it gets found. — Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) November 15, 2015
ISIS wants people, particularly other Muslims, to believe it has created an Islamic utopia. It also wants people to believe the West is at war with Islam. These ideas are central to the terrorist organization's recruiting efforts.
But when people see Muslims running away from ISIS, and Western countries helping them, it completely debunks these notions.
In other words, refugees are proof ISIS is full of sh*t, and it's really just a group of cowardly, delusional and pathetic individuals.
You know what pissed off Islamist extremists the most about Europe? It was watching their very humane, moral response to the refugee crisis. — Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) November 14, 2015
If the passport was planted as a psy-op by attackers, it shows that one of the targets was European acceptance of refugees. Isis hates that — Julian Borger (@julianborger) November 18, 2015
Part of defeating ISIS means helping the people it's victimized. ISIS' main weapon is fear and it thrives on chaos and disunity.
When countries like France step forward and defiantly continue to accept refugees after a devastating terror attack, it's a slap in the face to everything ISIS stands for.
The American governors and presidential candidates who don't want the US to help refugees should take notes.
Thankfully, President Obama has exhibited common sense and remained steadfast in his commitment to resettle Syrian refugees in the US. The US will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next year.
On Wednesday, he lambasted Republican attempts to dismantle these efforts, stating,
We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don't make good decisions if it's based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks. Apparently, [Republicans] are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America. At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn't seem so tough to me.
The United States is a nation of immigrants. Many of the earliest Americans were Europeans seeking religious freedom.
America has long been viewed as a place of refuge by people around the world. This is why so many have been drawn to its shores over the years. In a sense, all Americans are refugees.
While the people of US have not always welcomed newcomers with open arms, America was established upon the idea people should not be limited or ostracized based on where they come from.
It's wrong for any American to fear Syrian refugees because they are Muslim and an insult to the ideals this nation was founded upon.
The first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was Morroco, a Muslim nation.
Indeed, Americans can count Muslims among their earliest allies. But people have lost sight of that fact in the present day.
They've allowed fear to blind them and turn them down a discriminatory and hateful path. This needs to stop.
Islam is not an inherently violent faith and a minority of extremists do not represent the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.
It's embarrassing a country attacked by a group of Islamic extremists can be rational enough not to blame all Muslims and all refugees, but many in the US are either unwilling or unable to see the light.
In spite of how horrible the attacks were, France refuses to turn away from its values.
The darkest moments in American history were products of hate and prejudice against certain groups. Let's not add another shameful chapter to our country's narrative.
Refugees and Islam are not the enemy, ISIS is the enemy. Wake up, America.
The Paris attacks were an attack on all humanity, we can't respond to them by being inhumane.
Reject fear, embrace unity. That's how you defeat terrorism.
Citations: French President Francois Hollande Welcomes Refugees Despite Paris Attack (ABC News), Hollande France Will Still Take In 30000 Refugees In Next 2 Years (Huffington Post), After Attacks France Increases Its Commitment To Refugees (Think Progress), No State Governors Cant Refuse To Accept Syrian Refugees (Think Progress), Paris Stadium Attacker Got to Europe Using Fake Syrian Passport (WSJ), More than half the nations governors say Syrian refugees not welcome (CNN), Syrian Passport in Paris May Be Planted German Minister Says (Bloomberg), Syrian Passport by Stadium Stolen or Fake AFP Reports (NYT), Were Syrian refugees involved in the Paris attacks What we know and don't know (Washington Post), President Obama Mocks Republicans on Refugee Stance (ABC News), President Obama directs administration to accept at least 10000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year (Washington Post), Why Morocco Matters To The US (Forbes)