After the events of the past few weeks, many are struggling to stay positive in the face of terrorism, writes Ciara Ferguson.
In 2017, people are becoming more open minded. We have equal rights to vote, we legalised equal rights to marriage in Ireland and the world is moving forward. So why, in 2017, are these terror attacks happening? Have we learnt nothing from the past? Innocent men, women and children are killed and for what?
 
A total of 557 people, mostly Catholics, were killed from 1920 to 1922 both during and after the Irish War of Independence, and that was only in 6 counties (Northern Ireland). In World War 1, over 16 million people died. In World War 2, over 60 million were killed. The first act of terror I remember hearing of is the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 where 2,996 people were killed.With the way the world is going today we are going to end up with a World War 3 which will result in millions more dead.
 
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more commonly known as ISIS, is a group of people wanting to create their own state, governed by their interpretation of the Laws of the Quran, and to destroy all other branches of Islam and those who do not agree. ISIS's goal is a 'purified' world - meaning the riddance of everyone who does not agree with their particular religious views and with the way they enforce their laws. In other words, they intend to take over the world by converting or killing people. ISIS have been linked to a number of terror attacks in recent years.
 
Terrorism has claimed responsibility for other attacks including London in 2005, where four coordinated attacks by suicide bombers were executed in London subway trains and a bus, killing 52 commuters. The killers were later identified as British al Qaeda sympathizers. In Paris in 2015, Islamist extremists killed a total of 17 people at Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
 
More recently, there was the Westminster Attack in March 2017, where the attacker drove a car into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge and Bridge Street, injuring more than 50 people, four of them fatally. After the car crashed, the attacker abandoned it and ran into New Palace Yard where he fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer and killed him. He was then shot by another police officer and died at the scene.
 
Then, there was an attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, where a man blew himself up and others around him, killing 22 people, including an eight year old girl, and injuring over 100 others as they were exiting the concert. The singer tweeted, “Broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don't have words.” I can’t even begin to imagine how guilty and devastated she must feel, even though this is not her fault. This is not the fault of Ariana, the survivors or an entire religion and we must remember that.
 
Yes, ISIS are responsible for these awful attacks, but that doesn’t mean we should brand all Muslims as terrorists, because they’re not. Just like we shouldn’t brand all Catholic priests as sexual abusers, because they’re not. We shouldn’t feed into these stereotypes. Ariana Grande hosted a benefit concert in Manchester, and raised over £2 million for the victims and families who were tragically affected by the attack. Celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Take That, Niall Horan and others participated. She also visited her injured fans in hospital. Less than two weeks after that attack, ISIS struck again on London Bridge, where three men ploughed into pedestrians in a van and proceeded to stab people in bars and restaurants nearby, killing at least seven and injuring around 50.
 
My thoughts are with all the families and friends impacted by these disgusting and cowardly acts of unnecessary violence but in these terrible times, we really are united. These tragedies have affected everyone, all over the world and that reminds us that although terrible things happen, it is only a small group in comparison to the world.