Monday, 9 July 2007

Confronting Terror

An interesting article on Christian Science monitor catches the mood of thinking minded sensible people on the issue of terrorism. The author quotes the surprise findings of surveys revealing public attitude towards terrorism. A few points rose in the brief article reflecting on the survey results from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia and United States deserve more attention and space.

It has been asserted, validly in my view, that Muslims are no more supportive of terrorism than any other communities of religious and other groups. Terrorism steams out of misguided ideology energised by anger, mistrust and ignorance. Those that seek to kill innocent people indiscriminately do so out of their evil desires. Such actions as unfolded in various terrorist attacks in NY, London and other places are utterly condemned by all people from all socio-religious groups and rightly so. Unfortunately however, some powerful quarters of western political establishments have continued to wrongly accuse Muslims directly and indirectly of not going far enough in condemning such attacks. Many of them go as far as blaming Muslims for harbouring and supporting terrorism. These powerful elements of our political establishments, ideologues of a kind, and their allies in Muslim lands created their own brand of ‘war on terror’ which is equally divisive. At the core of the current strategies adapted by Washington, and to some extent London, lies an unholy desire to pick a fight with wider Muslims societies all around the world to impose ‘western values’ on Muslims world over. This strategy is either fuelled by an arrogant worldview of certain leaders and thinkers who view their ways of life to be so superior that it deserves to be imposed upon others, or that their understanding of Muslims and Islam is so shallow and misinformed that they totally fail to understand the very nature of Islam and Muslims thus adapt policies that instead of befriending Muslims, it offends them. As a result, in what should have been a relatively simple criminal matter in which everyone would sign up to, their policies antagonises Muslims and convinces many of a hidden agenda to subjugate global Muslim communities thus increase sympathisers to Al-Qaeda likes.

The war on terror in the main has been used both in the west and in the East as a powerful weapon to silence Muslim groups which has been fighting for equality, social justice, freedom, democracy and reform. These groups, though in some ways may be different from prevalent western political establishments, are groups that deserve our support rather than being condemned. The puppets, dictators and corrupt rouge elements occupying power in most Muslim lands are enemies of civility, justice and freedom and deserve to be opposed. West, in its support for these governments, lost its moral credibility and only ignited the feelings among many Muslims that they are the subject of a world wide witch hunt.

Islam is a global religion with a very active and clear socio-political and economic vision. As such, many Muslims feel that it is their obligation demanded by their faith to work towards bringing about a society in which their values are appreciated and established in the political apparatus of the state. This, however disliked by many, is a legitimate desire that any groups of whatever ideology can and should hold for so long as they do not seek to impose upon others by force. Westerners feel their ways of life is the superior and they have the right to think in that way, similarly, Christians, Jewish and all other believers of various faiths feel the same regarding their faiths and it is their right which we should respect. Why should than the Muslims be different? The current trend in the global struggle against extremism seems to deny this right to Muslims and seek to silence all political movements, peaceful popular organised, which find its inspiration in Islam.

Of course, the shallow and rather one sided media coverage, the ability of the Neo-Conservatives and their allies world over to twist and spin truth and mobilise public opinion using powerful propaganda tool means today Islam and systems inspired by Islam has been demonised to the extent that the moment a westerner hears of Islamic State, Islamic System, they instantly feel frightened and imagine of some back dated draconian ways of life which has nothing to offer to modern progressive societies whereas in reality nothing can be far from truth. The issue of equality, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, justice and fairness are the fundamental principles that underpin any Islamic system. For centuries, when Islam was firmly rooted in the political, social and economic life of Muslims, they went on to make extremely valuable contribution in enlightening our world through scientific discoveries, mathematical excellence and development of various humanities disciplines. History, astronomy, medicine and mathematics are only but a few of the areas in which Muslims contributed enormously. Today the Muslim world is in disarray, political-socio-economic condition of Muslims is dire. There are good reasons to suggest that at the heart of this direness of Muslims is the legacy of colonial rule and a planned and carefully orchestrated strategy of decapitating Muslims in the colonial error which continues to date in many shapes and forms. And it is not only Muslims who suffers from this utterly despicable condition of the Muslim communities; the non-Muslims alike suffer from it. When Islam dominated the lives of Muslims, non-Muslims were flourishing in the Muslim world with dignity, honour, safety and security. Classic example was the decadent Ottoman Empire in which many westerners fleeing from persecution at home found refuge; Jewish enjoyed relatively better life and a lot of influence. For Islam guarantees freedom for all religious groups and forbids any kind of biasness towards them by the Muslims.
Cutting things short, it is suffice to say that the current strategy to support puppets, marginalising islamically inspired political and social movements is a wrong strategy which in long term will continue to strain the relationship between Muslims and the wider world. This strategy is also doomed to be failure for it fails to recognise the rights of Muslims to be heard and valued. TO Muslims it is not the guarantee of economic prosperity, technological advancement and political authority that means most, though they are very important. What matters to Muslims most is their faith and the integrity of their faith. Let therefore the Muslim community decide for themselves as to what they want, what kind of ways of life they want. Let us not mix up a mere criminal issue with wider aspiration of Muslims to see their ways of life glorious and flourishing. Terrorism is a criminal matter which must be dealt with as such. In the process we should attack the justification of Al-Qaeda type groups for this kind of attacks and not get into a petty propaganda assault to condemn their stated objective of bringing about Islamic state. For every Muslim wants to see Islam prevail at all level of social strata. It is not the desire to see Islam being established politically which is wrong; it is the mean in which one seeks to establish Islam as the political force we should be concerned about. Only than and than alone will we be able to truly confront terrorism in all its evil shapes and forms.
This article was first published on The Daily Star, leading English daily in Bangladesh, on 8th July 2007.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Terrifying Terror, the course of Justice and our values

First Published on The Daily Star (
Britain once again stands frightened by the prospect of terrorist attack. A group of misguided individuals commit themselves to mindless act of carnage and violence. It is right that our government and people condemned such act of outrage with utmost disgust. Praise therefore is due to those who responded so well to the threats to lives of so many. Praise indeed to our security forces, political leadership and emergency response teams throughout the UK. I note particularly the statements of Alex Salmond and Jacqui Smith, both of which emphasised on the need to remain united. Alex Salmond’s reassurance to the Muslim community is particularly noted with sigh of relief and gratefulness.

Having so praiseworthy of our security forces, and largely of our politician, it is fair however for us to pick on those that either deliberately use events like this to further their own narrow interests. One such quarter is of course our media. As always, I note that media once again failed to be responsible and continue with their outrageously biased and inflammatory tone. At a time when we need conciliation, calm and measured coverage of events which is perfectly capable of giving rise to wider social instabilities, media words and tunes its voice in manners which only can flair up the heat causing enormous distress to so many innocent people.

Listening to BBC Radio4 this morning, I felt very concerned for all those doctors from Asian Countries, in particular those from Jordan and Egypt. In fact, the questioning was so outrageous that anyone listening to them would assume that presenter of the programme was convinced that those doctors of Arab origin, in particular from Egypt and Jordan are guilty of crime and pose serious threat to our national security. I wondered where the fine principle of criminal justice which says: ‘innocent until proven guilty’ was? I wondered too of Radio4’s objectivity, respect for due process of law and impartiality. I wondered how would she have reported was this incident to take place in a developing (preferably) Muslim country and some westerners were to be arrested and reported in the same manner in Iranian National Press? I hear some mutter ‘well we cannot be compared with Iran’ and that is where the problem lies.

Terrorism is a threat to us all, it has the potential to destabilise the entire world. The terrorists seek to create confusion, chaos and suspicion between communities and citizens to destroy the normality of our daily lives. Through creating division and suspicion they seek to fracture our social fabric which in turn will give rise to panic and anger. Anger and panic will lead to desperate acts which in turn will lead to backlash and instability thus bring an end to a harmonious way of life. This way eventually terrorists will achieve their objectives without being defeated which is to destroy our society in which people of all faith and none, races and nationality flourish side by side in mutual cooperation, respect and trust. Media and for that matter all those who acts irresponsibly give up fundamental values of our society, and let their prejudice, emotion and hatred lead their judgements only to play to the hands of terrorists in furthering their objectives.

All those people who have been arrested in suspicion of involvement with these notorious attacks should be treated fairly; justice must follow its own course and give them their due. Presumption of their guilt not only violates the basic principle of our justice system, it seriously threatens their prospect of being treated fairly. Furthermore, assuming them being wicked, hinting all their fellow professionals of similar ethnic and religious origin of being a threat to national security, will only help to create mistrust, anger and resentment, more reasons for many to be convinced that society and social institutions being biased against people of a specific religious affiliation. IN addition, not letting justice take its own course indirectly implies that our justice system is incapable of coping with new environment which of course is not the case.

IN conclusion, let me just add one more thing, the discussion of increasing the power of police and giving them more time to detain without charge is unhelpful. I applaud Brown’s reluctance to rush new legislation and hope that commonsense will prevail. There is nothing to suggest that any of the terrorist attacks could have been prevented by longer detention without charge, nor does it follow commonsense. The culture of detention without charges fuels anger and resentment, it makes more innocent people victim of a biasness and abuse of power by our security forces. Extremely low rate of prosecution, and even less success in conviction and the mistakes of Forest Gate, Charles De Menezes are only a very few cases sufficient to highlight the needs for restraint in bringing about new draconian measures. Many citizens of this country concur with me in finding a comparison between some of our harshest laws brought about in response to these terrorist threats with those that existed in places like apartheid South Africa. No one would agree that those laws were effective in keeping the ‘ANC terrorists’ away from realising their dreams, it only helped those activists to strengthen their resolve. We need to be able to stand confident and trust our people of all colour, nationality and faiths. Let us not play in the hands of the terrorists and let our much dared, precious freedom for which so many of our previous generations fought and so many of our fellow humans continue to struggle in many parts of the world prevail.