Under the Rock

Emily Burke, Sentry Staff Reporter

On January 7, gunmen attacked the satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, killing eleven people. The attackers also shot and killed a police officer on a sidewalk close to the magazine. Another police officer was killed in a Paris suburb on Thursday, January 8. The attackers claimed to be avenging the Prophet Mohammed because the magazine published satirical cartoons depicting him. The gunmen initially escaped. later, two hostage crises resulted in more deaths, bringing the total number to 17. This tragedy brings up issues about freedom of speech and press. Muslims around the world reacted by speaking out against terrorism. CNN published a series of quotes from Muslims denouncing violent extremism.

“Because of three idiots, three terrorists, the Muslim community will suffer again. Islam is a religion of peace and understanding. Not this monstrosity,” said Nihaad Hosany.

In response to the attacks, people around the world are coming together to honor the victims and protest terrorism. Images of candlelit gatherings and the phrase “Je suis Charlie” have flooded social media in the days since the attack. In an official statement on the attacks, French President François Hollande encouraged the French people to be strong and fight violence in the country and in the world.

“Let us join together at this difficult moment, and we shall win, because we are fully capable of believing in our destiny, and nothing can weaken our resolve,” said Hollande.

Gay Marriage and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was scheduled to meet on Friday, January 9 to decide whether the Constitution gives same sex couples the right to marry, regardless of what state they live in. Issues are currently being raised about whether it is the responsibility of the state or the federal government to define the requirements for marriage. Recently, lower courts have disagreed on the constitutionality of bans on gay marriage, and Americans are looking to the Supreme Court to make a decision. Gay marriage is still banned in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. The status of same sex marriage is still under review in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.

The Supreme Court once again postponed the decision; the justices refused to hear cases from gay and lesbian couples in states where the ban still exists. However, there is still time for the justices to ensure a ruling by June, which is the end of the court term. If the justices hear at least one case by the end of this month, that will set in motion the steps toward a June decision. Although this delay is disappointing, it is not time to give up hope yet.

Syrian Refugees

The Syrian refugee crisis, caused by air strikes and violence in Syria, is worsening. The overflow of refugees into neighboring countries has caused problems, and neighboring countries are struggling to deal with the issue. These refugees have fled primarily to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. To reduce the Sunni movement into the country, Lebanon has recently tightened restrictions on the amount of Syrian refugees allowed to enter the country. Lebanon has had to deal with the entry of over one million civil war refugees, an overwhelming number for such a small country. This number amounts to almost one quarter of the Lebanese population. A total of over three million people have left Syria.

So far, Syrian refugees already living in Lebanon will be allowed to stay. However, many refugees at the border have been sent back. In the past, Syrian refugees have been freely admitted into Lebanon with six month visas. The large numbers of refugees have disrupted the infrastructure and economy in Lebanon. The Syrian civil war has also increased tensions between Shias and Sunnis in Lebanon. This is another reason for the new limit on the entry of new refugees. Although limiting the entry of Syrian refugees will give Lebanon more stability, something must be done to help the millions of refugees still flowing out of Syria.