Today, we have seen the Belgian capital rocked by a series of bomb attacks that targeted the airport and metro stations. These attacks have so far taken the lives of 34 people with many more injured. Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims at this time. This attack in Brussels comes in a week that also saw two attacks in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul that saw more than 40 people killed. These attacks once again reiterate that the perpetrators are indiscriminate in their actions and seek only to perpetuate feelings of fear and anxiety within people and communities. The attacks in Belgium and Turkey took place in streets steeped in cultural history and cities that shine as places of diversity and inclusion.
The atrocities committed in Belgium and Turkey showcase the continued need for communities to come together in the face of violence. It cannot be that we continue to live our lives in a state of fear that sees families and innocent people afraid to go about their daily lives because they may be attacked by gunmen or become a victim of a bombing.
It is important to keep in mind that the protection and sanctity of life for all people are seen as equal in the eyes of God. It shouldn’t be the case that we express more grief or show more awareness to an atrocity committed in one place compared to another. The lives lost in Turkey and Belgium and anywhere else in the world bled the same way and the families of the victims grieved the same way. As religious leaders and members of the community, it is important to continue praying for the safety and security of all people and work hand in hand to bring about a lasting change that sees the eradication of hate and violence in our world.
Too often we see that after atrocities, the backlash and blame falls on the wrong people which feeds into and perpetuates the narrative of the extremists that perpetrate these crimes. It shouldn’t be that accusations and blame are put on refugees that are entering into Europe. We cannot forget that those fleeing their homelands in Syria and beyond are escaping from the same terror that has struck Belgium and Turkey.
What also seems an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of terror attacks is the rise we see in anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia. The likes of daesh that commit such atrocities do so with a false allegiance to Islam and its core tenets. It shouldn’t be that the actions of a misguided few tarnishes a whole community that continues to distance itself from such crime. The victims of these crimes are of both faith and no faith, showing that terror does not show loyalty to any one group of people but rather seeks to amplify feelings of fear and works to divide communities along religious and national lines.
As is always the case, it is our response in these situations which ultimately defines us as individuals and as a community. We must remember that it is our humanity that separates us from those that seek to harm. Let us continue to mourn the loss of lives in our own way and continue to pray for those that have lost their lives in Belgium, Turkey and anywhere else in the world.