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Paris attacks prove to be the most recent stage for ISIS

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On Nov. 13, the city of Paris was tragically affected by the latest series of attacks led by the terror group, ISIS. The attacks consisted of a series of suicide-vest explosions coordinated alongside multiple shootings and hostage situations across Paris, France. The violence began Friday, Nov. 13 amidst an international soccer match being played between the home team France and the visiting Germany squad. Audible explosions went off around the stadium. The explosive vests worn by the attackers killed as many as four civilians and catapulted the horrific actions to come. The attacks then moved to central Paris. Two coordinated attack groups opened fire upon adjacent restaurants of La Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge killing another 15 civilians. The attackers proceeded to assault the following three restaurants over the next hour: A La Bonne Biere, La Belle Equipe and Comptoir Voltaire. These three attacks compiled a list of an additional 25 casualties on this horrific Friday evening. However, the largest massacre would transpire within the Bataclan concert hall. The Eagles of Death Metal, an American rock group, were performing in this French venue that seats more than 1,500 spectators. The attackers stormed the hall with heavy assault rifles and took concert goers captive for more than two hours before killing 89 individuals. By the time the attacks ceased, the death toll rose to a staggering 129 pronounced dead with hundreds injured. French president Francois Hollande responded to these attacks by stating that the nation will not settle for the tragic nature of such attacks and will thus retaliate in a heavy and even “unforgiving” nature. The nation’s southern borders were swiftly shut down. This is the first time this extreme defensive action has been initiated since the Second World War. United States President Barack Obama also gave his response as to the horrific nature of these attacks on Paris. “This is an attack, not just on Paris and its people, but an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share,” he said in response to the attacks. Obama stated that the United States will continue to provide support for France during this ongoing phase of recovery from such a horrific tragedy that has undoubtedly caused much of the world to witness the unfortunate reality of extreme terrorist movements. “We want to be very clear that we stand together with (France) in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” said Obama. The following day, Nov. 14, provided another piece of shocking information to the people of France: the terror group known as ISIS had officially claimed responsibility in the attacks. The Bethel Beacon was able to meet with Bethel College’s Associate Professor of Missions Dr. Kent Eby to discuss the reality and nature of this terrorist organization known as ISIS. “ISIS as a movement is designed to bring about a new Islamic state,” stated Dr. Eby. “An Islamic state or an Islamic country does not merely mean that Islam would be another part of private life such as the way Christianity is in America. In a Muslim state, it permeates everything and is a whole way of life in society.” Dr. Eby would go on to elaborate on the core of ISIS’s recruitment and primarily its youth-centered approach. “If we look at the Paris incident, most of the perpetrators caught were under the age of 30,” clarified Dr. Eby. “Young people are obviously a target and a vulnerable part of society that’s trying to seek out their own purposes in life. I don’t know what ISIS is telling them as far as what the fruit of their labors would be, but their tactics are extremely strong and are causing young people to believe that violence can provide them a sense of purpose.” A common ideology that people have on ISIS is that it is a complete representation of all individuals who practice Islam; however, Dr. Eby believes that some people tend to misinterpret this idea. “I don’t think people oftentimes present a balanced perspective on social media,” said Dr. Eby. “Not all Muslims are violent and terrorists. Muslims may believe in a different religious system than we believe in, but Jesus is mentioned in the Koran as well as in the Bible. Even though he’s not portrayed in the same way in the Koran, they’re at least open to talking about who Jesus is, and this paves way for discussions to be had.” In the aftermath of being attacked, the French government engaged in a phase of airstrikes designed as retaliation measures against ISIS late in the evening of Sunday, Nov. 15, upon the Syrian city of Raqqa. The city has been a known stronghold for the terror group over the years. The French airstrikes carried out on this city proved France to be just the latest country to engage in a string of countermeasures against this terror group. However, Dr. Eby believes that there are other measures that can be taken in response to the threat of this group. “We all need to be educated and know what ISIS really is as well as knowing what it stands for,” stated Dr. Eby. “Instead of being reactionary towards all Muslims, we need to be students of history and see how things have transpired and use that as a way to understand the present and the future as well. And of course, we need to be on our knees and asking God for wisdom through it all.” ISIS’s actions are commonly rooted in its devotion to its own extremist view on the Islamic religion. The name “ISIS”, itself, is a tribute to their religion of Islam as the terror group’s actual name is “Islamic State.” In retaliation against Christians, they have been known to use deadly force through brutal beheadings of followers of Christianity and seek to defy those who refuse support to their radical viewpoints. “If we go by history,” said Dr. Eby, “whenever there was a previous Islamic state, Christians were allowed to be part of that Islamic state, but they lived under a different set of rules than a Muslim did in their society. There is a possibility of Christians being persecuted within that culture because they’re a minority, but because an Islamic state has been nonexistent for hundreds of years, it’s hard to say what it would for sure look like.” Dr. Eby concluded by stating that he hopes this tragedy that occurred in Paris can get people to talk more about the importance of current topics in religion and society as well as increase the amount of discussions that take place on campus. "In America, we are so incredibly fortunate that we haven’t been exposed to the first-hand effects of ISIS’s terror in our own country," said Dr. Eby. "However, we should all see these attacks as a realization moment. Freedom isn’t free and shouldn’t merely be taken for granted. The ISIS attacks on Paris are yet another reminder as to just how precious life and its fleeing moments can be, as well as just how swiftly the world can be shattered by such extreme events."

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