Anti-Muslim backlash in the West is common whenever the Islamic State terrorist group carries out an attack. It happened in the aftermath of the Café Lindt siege in Sydney, Australia last December and later in France, following the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store in January.
Most recently, anti-Islamic sentiment resurged in Europe, after a series of shooting rampages and suicide bomb attacks by ISIS killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds in Paris on Nov. 13.
Since the militant organization claims to follow Islam, a lot of people assume — and many staunchly believe — that all 1.6 billion Muslims are also promoters and perpetrators of violence.
That, of course, isn’t true.
However, what’s even worse is how these people fail to realize that the number one victims of ISIS are, in fact, Muslims.
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ISIS has ruthlessly massacred thousands of Muslims in the Middle East and West Africa either for failing to pledge allegiance to its extremist ideology or, in many cases, for simply denouncing its actions.
Just hours before the attacks in Paris, a pair of suicide bombings orchestrated by the terrorist group rocked Lebanon in southern Beirut. Around 43 people died and at least 239 others were left wounded in what is now being called one of the worst attacks to hit the city in decades.
Unlike France, Lebanon is not a “non-Muslim country.” It has a 54% Muslim majority with 27% Sunni and 27% Shiite followers.
Then why did ISIS carry out the attack in Beirut?
The answer is simple.
Despite claiming to follow the same religion as their victims, ISIS murders Muslims, irrespective of their sect, because that’s what they do; they kill people, they kill humanity.
As noted by The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah, a 2014 investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Office and the UN’s Assistance Mission for Iraq found “at least 9,347 civilians had been killed and at least 17,386 wounded,” only in the first eight months of 2014 with most of the killings attributed to ISIS.
In the following months, thousands more have been massacred. But the atrocities are not limited to bloodshed. The terrorists have also destroyed multiple ancient temples and other architecture revered by Muslims of all sects.
In order to escape the evil clutches of these criminals, a large number of Muslims from the Middle East — along with members of other minorities such as Christians and Kurds — has been risking death at sea in a desperate bid to reach European shores.
However, the ordeal didn’t end there.
Being a refugee is hard. Being a Muslim refugee is harder.
It was a dead end. They couldn’t go back and were not welcome where they sought refuge. Why?
Because of ISIS.
There were, and still are, widespread fears ISIS militants are infiltrating refugee boats arriving in Europe and elsewhere. This usually leads many to eye Muslim refugees with suspicion and consequently creates more problems for them.
While the loss of lives in Paris is indeed regrettable, the long-term repercussions on Muslim citizens and refugees cannot be discounted.
Again, all of this is happening because of ISIS.
"I'm OK with you saying that ISIS is Muslim as long as you also realize that the tens of thousands of people that they have killed are also Muslims and that the tens of thousands of people who are fighting against ISIS are also Muslim," Iranian-American historian Reza Aslan once stated in an interview.
And he is right.
By tarring all followers of Islam with the brush of extremism, people help ISIS in hurting their No. 1 victims: Muslims. But not many realize this fact.