It’s been almost a week since news broke of the shooting and suicide bombing in Paris: 129 dead.

That Friday night, I got home from walking my dog and sat down in front of the television. It was cold outside, and my plan was to snuggle under a blanket and watch something trashy until my family got home. I turned on the television, which automatically tunes in to CP24, and heard the following words: “We still don’t know the condition of the 100 hostages, but our latest report has 30 people dead following the restaurant shooting in Paris. It is still unknown whether the disturbance at the soccer stadium is related.”

I ended up spending the entire night glued to CBC News. My computer was running a live-blog hosted by the Guardian, and my Twitter feed on my phone was lit up in #PrayForParis hashtags.

Simply put: since then, I’ve tried to avoid writing an article about the attack.

I was lost for words, but I also didn’t want to make the same mistakes as some media publications and members of the Twitterverse. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions.

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Paris at night. Photo taken by Katherine DeClerq

It was only two months ago that I was in Paris, joyfully wandering the streets in the City of Lights, breathing in the Parisian lifestyle. It was an amazing experience. I wandered the twisted roads filled with shops and restaurants, drank wine, ate baguettes, visited museums, and saw the Eiffel tower. I got lost a few times, but luckily the people of Paris were nice enough to point me in the right direction. It’s important to know that when I say “people of Paris,” I mean people of every ethnicity. The kindest of them all was a Muslim man who showed us a short cut to the Eiffel tower.

My heart breaks when I hear about the racism and bigotry people are facing because of these terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. Politicians are screaming at each other for considering allowing refugees—people fleeing the very violence we just experienced—to enter their country. A mother was attacked when picking up her child from school, simply because she wore a hijab; a mosque in Peterborough was set ablaze with a molotov cocktail; and men and women are receiving letters in the mail from neighbours saying, “Canada is no place for immigrants. Go home.” The American media has been particular nasty to the Muslim community, asking them to “take responsibility” for the actions of a few extremists with ties to ISIS.

How is this Canada? How is this France, England, Germany, or the United States?

After a tragic event such as this one, time is our biggest ally. We may live in a 24-hour news cycle world, but that doesn’t mean we should rush to conclusions and continue to spread unfounded fear. Every time a mother is attacked, a mosque destroyed, or a man is falsely accused of being a terrorist, we add fuel to the fire. The people who killed 129 Parisians last Friday want us to turn on one another. They want Muslims to see the rest of the world as racist and islamophobic.

Let’s take some time. Sit back, breathe, and really think about what happened in Paris. Think of your neighbours and friends, some who may not be native to this country. In a world with a population of over 7 billion, there will be bad people. But, let’s not throw everyone with the same religion, skin colour, or beliefs into that categorization. Let’s not turn away those fleeing from violence, just because we are afraid. Chances are, in this political climate, they are more afraid than we are.

After taking a week to figure out how I feel following these tragic events, I’ve decided that I’m not going to #PrayForParis. Instead, I’m going to #PrayForTheWorld: Pray for a world of tolerance and acceptance, where no one feels afraid and everyone knows what it means to be loved. Lets not lose who we are and blindly follow the war cries.

Lets prove that we are better than that.

Author

Katherine DeClerq is the editor of Women's Post. Her previous writing experience includes the Toronto Star, Maclean's Magazine, CTVNews, and BlogTO. She can often be found at a coffee shop with her MacBook computer. Despite what CP says, she is a fan of the Oxford comma.

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