Word of IS and extremism is never far from our ears. Very often, we hear of great unrest in the Middle East. However, as common as horrific news stories may seem, it never gets any easier when an act of terrorism occurs. Right now, I feel the same kind of shock and anger that I felt back in January, following the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The world stands in solidarity with Paris in this moment; and that is how we will defeat extremism.
The events in Paris, which began late on Friday 13th November, have claimed 128 lives. 300 have been injured, with around 80 of those in a critical condition. The most deadly attack was in the Bataclan concert hall, a venue capable of seating 1,500 people. The details are morbid, but it's important we realise the extent to which the world has been affected by these atrocities.
Indeed, social media is awash with messages of support and sympathy. Yet, unfortunately, as with most tragedies, the chronically bigoted have also had their say, pointing the finger of blame at the Muslim community as a whole. The fact that approximately 0.003% of the one billion+ Muslims in the world are involved in terrorist organisations is seemingly lost on professional trolls such as Ann Coulter.
Should all Christians be tarnished by the actions of the KKK? Should all Catholics feel guilt when a priest is accused of sexual assault? Our double-standards are truly dumbfounding. It should be common knowledge by now that the vast majority of Muslims despise groups like Islamic State. Indeed, Islamic State is responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Muslims, and it feels wrong for many in the faith to even call them 'Islamic'.
I ran out of patience when people began to use the Paris attacks for cheap political point-scoring. Indeed, Suzanne Evans, Deputy Chairman of UKIP, wrote on Twitter:
She was, sadly, not alone. The Independent's John Rentoul tweeted: ‘Will Corbyn say France made itself a target?’
‘This is why we should listen to Mr Farage’ another man commented on Facebook. It worries me that at a time of such devastation the first reaction of some is to play pathetic politics.
This all sounds rather depressing, and even more so when you consider the attacks in both Baghdad and Beirut on the same day. However, throughout all the horror and bigotry, the world has also shown a great deal of solidarity. Whether through the trending hashtag #PrayForParis, through the French flag filter on Facebook, or merely through good old-fashioned messages of good will, people from all over the globe have been expressing their sympathy and grief. People say that guns and warfare will unravel IS, but in my opinion it is unity that will play the biggest role.
A divided world is a weak world, and Islamic State know that. The power of teamwork is often overlooked in today's society. Yet, as corny as it may sound, teamwork is essential if we are to defeat terrorism. Think back to the marches and cries of "Je Suis Charlie" in January, when French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was targeted by extremists. Think back to the way the UK came together in the wake of the 2005 London bombings. I cannot stress enough how powerful solidarity can be. Islamic State are classic bullies – their actions are solely based on fear. Let us counter fear with hope, togetherness and unity.