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Last week, I walked into JFK Airport at the crack of dawn and caught wind of the CNN ticker showing a massive attack at the airport in Istanbul. People at the airportweren't paying attention or seemed concerned about this, and I understand why. Unlike the Paris attacks, it was just too distant to be seen as a viable threat to their well-being . I had just come back from working in Ethiopia, Dubai, and made a few day stop in New York to visit some friends. My trip to Ethiopia got very complicated in the last few days of organization, so rather than stopping over in Turkey again (which was my initial plan), I had been booked through Dubai. My initial flight would have had me passing through Ataturk airport that day... and once again I managed to be so close, yet so far to yet another underreported terrorist attack...
Before you change your profile picture to the Brussels flag, please be mindful of of the scope of this crisis.
The scope of the global crisis of terrorism is bigger than most of us understand, than most of us know. It's important, though, as parents—American parents, parents in this tightly connected global world—that we try to wrap our minds around it.
I hope you'll follow my story, as I lend my skills, my resources, my ability to get the word out. I want to help moms, who are so busy, so overwhelmed and often very disconnected from all of these events, the politics, the history of regions around the world where terrorism, and it's effects, are hurting innocent people and children, to understand what exactly is going on. What it's like. What's happening to families. And how we can help.
I was in Turkey a couple of months ago and during two terrorist attacks. I was there, because Turkey had become the unofficial home-base for the leaders of a project I've been involved in, one XXXX refugees.
We'd gone there from Greece, back and forth, three times. Just a week after we left, there was another attack right along a very touristic street in Istanbul, where so many were killed and injured. (That's me in Taksim in the picture, a couple of weeks before those latest attacks.)
Hearing about these attacks, I felt relief not to be there, of course. But I was also surprised. With the heightened security, I really thought there would be a lull in attacks on the West after Paris, but it seems they are getting more and more frequent. By the time I learned about the the carnage in Brussels through my Facebook friends' statements of grief, I was devastated, of course. But not all that surprised.
In September, I took this photo outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (also known as The Church of the Resurrection). It was denouncing pseudo-Islamic terrorist organizations (Specifically ISIS/ISIL in this case) and it pictured a few of the many innocent lives they have taken. I posted this photo on Easter Sunday and commented on how interesting it is that lately everywhere, including one of the most well-known holy places in the world, there is acknowledgement of this group and similar groups and their ability to terrorize all of us.
And since this was taken there have been 78 attacks around the world that have attributed to pseudo-Islamic terrorist organizations (i.e. the Taliban, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), Al Qaeda… etc…)
How many of these attacks have you heard about? Probably just a handful. I'm not saying that it is your fault that you were not made aware of the global scope of this situation, but I will say that in order to make a difference, we need to start paying attention to terror as a whole, not just went it hits close to home, which I will get to in a moment. For now, I'm going to focus on so-called radicalized Islamic terrorisism.
Just a few hours after my initial Easter post, we were hit with another tragedy. At least 69 people were killed and 341 injured in a terrorist attack at a theme park in Pakistan. The target of this attack were Christians (who make up only 2% of the population in Pakistan). Of course, the theme park that day had a mixture of Muslim and Christian guests who fell victim to the attack. However, due to the location of the attack, the majority of the casualties and injuries were women and children.
It is important to note that these terrorist organizations work under the guise of an Islamic organization and it has been stated that Christians are under specific persecution, which I am not disputing, but the truth is that these organizations are neither Islamic nor theologically radicalized; they are political (militantly , unethically, and unapologetically so), which is why there is not one specific faith-based group which is protected from their terror.
You might be wondering why it even matters, the terror they cause does not change based on religion or politics. However, in order to learn how to prevent these groups from growing, we need to understand the basis for the organizations, and in order to protect the people who are at risk, specifically the refugee population, we need to understand their motivation behind the attacks.
The attacks you are hearing on the news have a specific purpose, they want you to be afraid of the groups fleeing from specific physical danger and they want scare you into cowering in global inaction and apathy… and it's working. After the Brussels attacks, #StopIslam was trending on Twitter. I even had my own family tell me to come home from Greece after the Paris attacks because they were concerned for my safety. And in 2015 there an article that surfaced from ISIS that discuss the goal to destroy Muslim acceptance in the West… which reveals that our reaction to these attacks in playing right into their hands.
For the West, above physical terror, this is mental terror so we reject all that is related to Arab and Islamic people, whether that be people in our neighborhoods or regions of the world.
This post was inspired by the events that happened on Easter Sunday, a day that historically, culturally and religiously (for some) symbolizes our defeat over death/darkness/evil, and that is something that, regardless of your faith tradition, can be taken and used in your own advocacy.
Humanity does not need to be bound by its fears.
Acknowlesge pain that has been inflicted upon others
Acknowledge the attempt terrorize all who remain
Denounce the chasm which those inflicting terror are attempting to create between all of us
Our fears (and those who are creating those fears) lose their grip on us.
Don't be afraid to live, explore, or experience community.