Thursday, May 25, 2017

Manchester Carnage And The Need To Combat Terrorism & All Forms of Violence

Dr. Laksiri Fernando
It is a wrong proposition to say that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Terrorism should be defined or understood not in a subjective manner, but objectively. There can be grey areas when some incidents or historical facts are analysed, but that should not preclude us from achieving a common understanding of this horrible phenomenon and rejecting it as abhorrent to human civilization. The ‘fight for freedom,’ if at all, should not involve violence, let alone terrorism. Therefore, no terrorist should be any man’s (or woman’s) freedom fighter.
There cannot be any difficulty in identifying the suicide bomb attack in Manchester at the Ariana Grande Concert on the 23rd May as terrorism and the person who inflicted the attack killing himself, Salman Abedi, as a terrorist. In this single incident, 22 people have been killed and 59 injured. Many hundreds or even thousands are terrorised. I usually don’t like to quote Lenin on these matters but he once said, ‘the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize.’ It is an objective pronouncement.
The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed the responsibility for the suicide bomb attack. Therefore, there is a clear identification of the terrorist act with a terrorist organization. However, there are still speculation whether the suicide bomber was directly connected to the IS or acted alone, perhaps with a smaller group, of course inspired by the IS or similar ideology. The latter is the pattern that we have seen in many such attacks in Europe in recent time.
If such is the case, there is more reason to worry about the evolving pattern of ‘lone wolves’ as they may have ‘grievances,’ perceived or real. However, no grievance is a justification for violence, in my opinion, let alone terrorism.
Clash of Cultures?
The attack on Ariana Concert undoubtedly has a cultural angle. It was an event of Western pop music patronized by young women and men. It is also common to many other countries. It may be distasteful to certain ‘ethical,’ religious or cultural traditions, but in that case those people should not migrate or live in Western countries. Even if you don’t agree, you should be able to tolerate and respect the other.
It is because of this cultural angle, that many Western leaders and observers rightly consider these attacks as threats to their ‘way of life.’ This is an undeniable feeling. In many of their statements they also consider these attacks as ‘appalling, sickening and cowardice,’ expressing anger. Even in the most carefully worded statement of the British PM Theresa May on this event, these sentiments are clearly expressed. The US President, Donald Trump has called the attackers ‘evil losers.’ One cannot expect a different reaction. All civilized people should denounce this henious crime. However, the question is whether such statements would aggravate or alleviate the situation. I am here not referring to the IS, but to the ‘lone wolves,’ as many of them are citizens or even born in these countries. This is the situation even in the case of Salman Abedi.
Here there is a question whether too much of ‘social globalization’ has created this unnecessary ‘clash of civilization.’ Terrorists are terrorists, but no one is a born terrorist. Terrorists are created under the circumstances. If globalization was limited to economic, trade or technological aspects, without leading to exodus of ‘social globalization,’ things could have been more manageable. The worst has been the attempted ‘political globalization.’ The world is too complex to globalize within a short span of time.
The religious, cultural and political diversities are too vast in this world at present. There are countries which are reluctant to globalize for various reasons. Therefore, those countries should be left relatively alone to manage their own affairs. The attempt at effecting uniformity or ‘universality’ do more harm than good, as the recent history has shown since the war against Iraq and attempted regime changes in the Middle East. 

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