What I wish Paris as an Arabist

* This article has been posted to the Japanese webpage of the JVC in November 2015, just after the terrorist attack that happened in Paris.
[ Original Published: November 19, 2015 / Mai Namiki, Program Officer for Palestine ]

Hello, I am Mai Namiki, in charge of the Palestine project of JVC. As one of the Arabists, who loves Arabian countries, cultures and people, I wish to express my thoughts on the terrorist attack that happened in Paris on November, 2015.

I have been learning the Arabic language and the cultures of the Middle East since the age of 19 — for 12 years now. I have been there sometimes, living together with the local people. Some Japanese people ask me, if it is dangerous to live in the Middle East. I say in my answer that the people in those countries are just the same as us. They laugh, cry, and get angry every day. Only a small portion of the people behave in an extreme manner triggered by the political conflict and violence. How about us? Nobody in Japan gets violent?

Whenever news of terrorism in Islamic countries appear in newspapers, televisions or social media, the people in developed countries like Japan may think, “Why do they take such terrible actions? It is not allowed to kill civilians, no matter what the reason is.”

I wish them to keep having the belief “Do not kill civilians” and, at the same time, to address it in public. We should not fire a gun in a concert hall or in a restaurant for any reasons. We should not drop bombs in any places, where normal people may be involved. I hope that the people thinking in this way may increase in the world, specifically in the countries with strong political power.

“The war against terrorism” sounds good and seems to be reasonable. The important aspect is however, “Do not kill civilians”. There is no reason to kill normal people living in Europe, Japan, Middle East, or any other countries in the world. The number and nationality of victims of terrorism is not the matter of concern. If one kills a person, it is not rationalized any more.

I wish that people can stop action and think again before retaliating immediately. Please recall from your memory, what was the consequence of the incident on September 11, 2001. After conducting military actions against terrorism, has society become safer than before?

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