The horrific attacks in Paris on Friday are almost impossible to understand. How can people in our modern, civilized world just start murdering innocent strangers? The terrorist attacks claimed the lives of dozens of people and injured dozens more. How did the world come to this point?
The hatred and the anger behind the attacks actually have their roots in a violent schism that occurred centuries ago. After the death of the prophet Muhammad in AD 632 his followers were divided as to who should be his successor. This division led to the formation of the majority Sunnis and the minority Shias, a division that has been compared to the Protestant and Catholic division in the Christian faith, and one that has, like that Christian one, tragically sometimes led to violence over the centuries.
So what does this have to do with Isis? Well, Saddam Hussein, the former leader of the country, was a Sunni. Although he mostly ran a secular government, he used his position of power to favor his fellow Sunnis, even though the Shias were in the majority in the country. Not surprisingly, when he has thrown out of power in the US led invasion of 2003, the first post war election put a Shia, Nouri Al-Maliki. Equally unsurprisingly, he was perceived as favoring Shias over Sunnis, which lead to the sadly inevitable rise of Isis.
So now that we know how Isis began, how do we get rid of them? Fighting terrorism is incredibly complicated due to the fact that bombing attacks often kill innocent civilians, which is not only morally wrong, but also leads to the radicalization of otherwise non violent people. But we can't do nothing! Even a peacenik like me has to accept that a brutally violent group like Isis must be brought to justice, so I support continued ally bombing that is careful and targeted, which can and will be increased. In many ways these horrible attacks may sow the seeds of Isis's destruction in their boldness and brutality.
Sadly, another effect of these attacks is the Republican party has grabbed onto the chance to demonize all Muslims by saying America should not allow in the 10,000 Syrian refugees that are fleeing Isis and were scheduled to come here. This is typical right wing fear mongering; all those refugees will be carefully vetted, and they themselves are running from the very terrorists we claim to hate. When western leaders spread fear of all Muslims, they are inadvertently giving them propaganda victories that can increase their numbers. The US can simultaneously attack the terrorists and aid the victims. It's the right thing to do.