Rejecting Refugees Is Exactly What ISIS Wants

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Yet what these bigoted, close-minded politicians fail to realize is that they are directly playing into what the heinous terrorist organization wants.

Syrian refugee arriving with his daughter

In light of last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, more than 30 U.S. governors have announced they will not accept Syrian refugees under the ignorant assumption that the refugees fleeing Daesh’s brutal violence are actually the terrorists themselves. Yet what these bigoted, close-minded politicians fail to realize is that they are directly playing into what the heinous terrorist organization wants.

Following the attacks in Paris, a shocking 31 state governors have vehemently decided to refuse Syrian refugees asylum given that a Syrian passport was found near the remains of one of the suicide bombers.

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Paris attack victim

The passport was determined to be fake, but that crucial detail still hasn’t stopped the demagogues from discriminating against Muslims and refugees.

However, this escalating divide between the West and Muslims is exactly what Daesh wants. One of the primary goals of the Paris attacks was to further intensify the hostility between Muslims and their fellow non-Muslim citizens.

The Intercept explains this rationale by providing a chilling statement published in ISIS’s magazine Dabiq in February 2015 following the Charlie Hebdo attacks:

“The attack had ‘further [brought] division to the world,’ the group said, boasting that it had polarized society and ‘eliminated the grayzone,’ representing coexistence between religious groups. As a result, it said, Muslims living in the West would soon no longer be welcome in their own societies. Treated with increasing suspicion, distrust and hostility by their fellow citizens as a result of the deadly shooting, Western Muslims would soon be forced to ‘either apostatize … or they [migrate] to the Islamic State, and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.’”

ISIS supporter waving flag

These attacks were not senseless acts of violence enacted by a rage-filled, delirious hate group but rather a calculated move meant to not only incite fear but perpetuate a clear cultural gap between civilizations.

The nativism the West is vindictively demonstrating fits right in with Daesh’s intentions. The jihadist group is trying to establish itself as the safe haven for Muslims so by falling into a xenophobic narrative you are inadvertently sliding right into Daesh’s trap.

“The reality is, The Islamic State (IS) loathes that individuals are fleeing Syria for Europe,” Aaron Zelin, an expert on jihadists, wrote. “It undermines IS’ message that its self-styled Caliphate is a refuge, because if it was, individuals would actually go there in droves since it’s so close instead of ... risking their lives through arduous journeys that could lead to death en route to Europe.”

Syrian refugee children arriving

If Daesh can foster this idea that Muslims are “unwanted” in the West, their whole objective thereby wins.  Daesh’s main mission is to provoke an exaggerated enough response against Islam that Muslims will inherently perceive their religion is an explicit clash with the places they desire to call home.  Additionally then, Syrian refugees will believe the incredibly perilous trip to Europe is simply not worth the effort if they are so adamantly unwelcomed in the region.

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But the West has this enormous advantage to defeat Daesh’s intention by building that bridge across cultures and reaffirming unity.

people holding hands

"Our enemies have a plan. They want to divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between the defenders and attackers of Islam. By making Syrian refugees the enemy, we are playing into their hands," Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote in an op-ed for TIME. "Instead, we need to clarify that the real choice is between those who think it is OK to murder innocent people and those who think it is wrong. By showing that we value every human life, we can make clear to the world where we stand."

By accepting refugees regardless of their religious affiliation we can crush Daesh’s cultural war and prove the caliphate is actually wrong about the West. Yet judging by recent interactions, it doesn't seem like we are off to a successful start. 

Banner image credit: Reuters