Toward an Accepting World, Free of Hate

Though we have welcomed in the new year, thick and chaotic clouds have darkened its sky. These are the dark clouds of terrorism.

Terrorists attacked Paris in November last year. There was a shooting in California the following month in December. The aftereffects of these attacks in major European and American cities are still being felt.

The terrorist attacks in Paris were committed by the Islamic State. Similarly, the incident in the U.S. was committed by a couple that held radical Islamic beliefs.

In the turmoil following the Iraq War and the failure of the Arab Spring, radical organizations took advantage of the civil war that broke out in Syria and of the chaos in the Middle East to expand their influence. Many refugees who risked their lives to flee their countries are still escaping to Europe today.

Europe, Russia and the U.S. have not found a basic solution for the threat posed by non-state terrorist organizations that incite other individuals and organizations to violence via the Internet. Should aerial strikes against the Islamic State group be increased, their effect would not only be limited, but ordinary citizens would be provoked, increasing the chances that a new terrorist group would be born.

Enemies are also found within the borders of America and European nations. Anti-foreigner and anti-Muslim sentiments are growing within these countries.

Borders have been tightened and the influence of the far right has grown in European countries struggling to figure out how to accept refugees. In the U.S., where presidential elections will be held this year, one of the front-running Republican candidates is against allowing Muslims into the country.

Equating Muslims with the Islamic State group requires a severe amount of ignorance. The organization does not have supporters among the Arab countries and, on the contrary, it persecutes Muslims.

Radical groups will only benefit from increased anti-Islamic sentiments and the international community’s rejection of immigrants and refugees. After all, these groups aim to divide society and entice young people who feel alienated with radical ideas.

In order to put an end to the vicious cycle where hate breeds hate, we thus need to embrace a spirit of acceptance. Understanding others and respecting their human rights are among the founding principles of the U.S. and the European Union. Each should return to its founding principles to overcome its enemies within.

This is not limited to the U.S. and Europe. The entire international community now has a shared goal: preventing the formation of any more terrorists by creating an environment where immigrants are accepted by all of society and are not backed into poverty and discrimination.

International cooperation is even more important than stopping the civil war in Syria, which has become a breeding ground for terrorism. The Assad regime is tangled up in difficulties, from its relationships with Europe, Russia and the U.S. to the ulterior motives it has toward the Middle East’s Arab countries. It is urgent that each country put aside its individual interests and serve this common cooperative goal.

There are many difficulties that come with fighting against terrorism that extend beyond national borders. Giving up, however, would mean giving in to terrorism.

In December of last year, participants at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, in which they agreed to aim for zero greenhouse gas emissions.

We can see a ray of light in this unprecedented promise.

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