Valley responds to Paris attacks
Members of Muslim extremist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attacked civilians at three locations in Paris Nov. 13, killing 129 people and wounding hundreds. Most if not all the attackers were themselves killed, though the investigation continues and additional suspects are being rooted out. Words of support for the victims and condemnation for ISIS, which claimed responsibility, have been given worldwide.
Locally, The Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley was quick with a response. The group’s president, who did not provide a name, in a press release said, “The Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley is saddened by the horrific events taking place in France. The mass scale loss of innocent lives is devastating and should not be taken as a representative solution for any faith based tradition.
An association representative, who did not wish to share his name, responded to further inquiry, saying the response to open and educational programs about Islam in the Lehigh Valley have largely been positive and accepting, and despite occasional disruptive individuals, all are welcome to come and learn about Islam.
Of the attack on Paris, he said, “It is devastating to see events like this transpire around the world as we cannot begin to understand what would motivate someone to take innocent lives in the name of religion. There is nothing in Islam that sanctions this. Violent people bring their violent nature to the religion and not the other way around.
“We have been in the Lehigh Valley for over 25 years as a community and have always had a great relationship with those that care to know us. We encourage respect and love with the local community and will continue to do so since these are the characteristics of a real Muslim.”
“We stand in solidarity with the people of France over this horrific and senseless act of violence. Our prayers are with the families of victims, the authorities, and all the people of France,” The Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley president said.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th, posted on his Facebook page, “I am shocked and horrified by the terrorist attacks in Paris this evening. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. The people of the United States stand with the people of France.”
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said via Twitter, “Since our nation’s birth, France has been a close ally who has supported the American people in times of need. Tonight, France needs our prayers and our support.”
Former Bethlehem Press intern Katya Hrichak is currently schooling in England and was scheduled for a trip to Paris over the weekend. She said Dickinson College was frantically trying to contact all its students throughout Europe to ensure their locations and safety.
She said the town hall in Norwich, like the Tower Bridge in London, was lit up to resemble the French flag.