Opinion » Guest Opinions

Risks Worth Taking

Security, terrorism and our humanitarian obligation

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On Nov. 13, a string of shootings and bombings killed 129 people in the French capital of Paris. Six days after that attack, a series of raids in Belgium and Paris brought the death of its ringleader, yet the fight against terrorism and fanaticism is far from finished.

A day before the gruesome massacre in Paris, suicide bombings in southern Beirut killed 43 people and wounded at least 239 others. However, if it wasn't for the heroic actions of Adel Termos, many more innocent people could have perished.

Termos tackled a suicide bomber just seconds after another bomber had detonated himself at a mosque. You most likely have never heard of Termos because he was not in the news, and Facebook never provided the option to tribute your profile picture to him.

After these two horrendous terrorist attacks and another apparent terrorist attack on Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people and injured 22, most of us were inundated with news of diverted airplanes and evacuated airports due to bomb threats. We have gone into a state of shock. What is happening to our world? Is this because Europe and the U.S. have poor monitoring and security checks? Who should we blame? ISIS? Muslims? Islam? All of them? Or do we blame Western—and specifically U.S.—policy in the Middle East?

Calls have followed to increase security checks on refugees from Syria. "Twenty-five Republican governors have vowed to block the entry of Syrian refugees into their states," according to The New York Times.

The reasoning for this being that they may pose a threat. Some politicians prey on this social paralysis because they can push for something totally unjust, which they couldn't accomplish under normal conditions.

According to the United Nations, 7.6 million Syrian people are internally displaced; more than 220,000 people have been killed; and, with the ongoing civil war in Syria, the U.N. predicts there could be 4.27 million Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. Who are they running from? ISIS.

There is the possibility of a few terrorists entering the U.S. along with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, yet the chances are low.

While we may think the push for more security checks—or an outright ban on Muslims entering the country—are reasonable precautions, we should think about the real risk and how plausible it is. Life is all about taking risks—if you think we shouldn't accept refugees from Syria or Iraq because of one bad guy, you should probably stop driving your car. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel "road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29."

We take risks every day. We should not abandon refugees out of fear. Nobody disagrees with security checks. As a refugee, I've gone through that process, and I'm not from Syria and I'm not even a Muslim. I can write about three hours of "interview"—it was more like an interrogation—with a U.S. security agent in Turkey.

While the U.S. "could have saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis, the U.S. literally turned away a ship of 900 German Jews. Shortly afterward, it rejected a proposal to allow 20,000 Jewish children to come to the U.S. for safety," Vox reported.

As George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Are we going to repeat history because we can't remember it? Once upon a time the refugees were Jews, and now they are Muslims. Yet, the plotline is the same: people had to leave their homes because of an oppressive regime. They were seeking a refuge. If we don't help them now, I believe, we will be sorry about it tomorrow.

Having said that, I don't believe this is a war between the U.S. and Muslim terrorists (yes I call them Muslim terrorists, because that's what they are). Although there are many terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims, not all Muslims are terrorists. Hence this is a fight for Islam, and I have to repeat Sen. Bernie Sanders' words: "This war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it's going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up."

Of course, Muslim and Arab countries should step up and help refugees, too. We should accept refugees, but the international community should put more pressure on the countries in the region.

Closing our doors doesn't make us safe, but it does make us heartless, and that's not who we are. Who deserves safety more than people affected by war? The world would be a safer place without ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, but turning refugees away is not the path to security.

Farzan Faramarzi is an Iranian-born member of the Baha'i faith, a Boise State University graduate and former Boise Weekly videography intern.