Eliminating Terrorism

As a human being, it is my dream to see an end to terrorism and to experience an atmosphere of peace and justice in the world. As a Muslim, it is my duty to work for promoting, establishing and maintaining peace and justice in the world. As a Canadian, it is a privilege to be a part of a nation that has a reputation of keeping peace.

And I am not alone. In fact so far in my life, I personally have not come across even one person who does not share my dream of peace and justice or does not want to contribute to the establishment of peace and justice. Although there are too many warmongers and terror-addicted people in the world -- and the strife all over the world provides ample evidence of this – I, like most other ordinary citizens, hear about them only on the news when we witness the shocking results of their terror unnecessarily inflicted upon peace-loving people like us. Despite the fact that violence and terror are being inflicted on innocent people every day, I have never met anyone who likes what is going on. Since I have met a lot of people in my life, every one of them wanting peace, I can safely conclude that the overwhelming majority of people want peace.

If that is true, and I believe it is, then I am confounded by the absence of peace in the world. When an overwhelming majority of people want, desire and cherish peace, why do we not have it?

This is one point I think about a lot. I think about it because I want to realize my dream. I think about it because it is my duty to find ways to establish peace. I think about it because I feel that every human being has a right to live in peace. So why do we not have peace? Why has the majority not been able to pressure a small minority of warmongers and terrorists?

Every time I analyze it, it comes down to one point! All those who claim to be peace-loving citizens do not condemn every incidence or occurrence of terror consistently. They tend to take sides. They think that the terror by their own is acceptable; it is the terror of the other side that is bad. They even rationalize and justify terror of their own or their friends. Consequently, every terror in the world gets justified by many people; and how can you end something that is justified by so many?

Amazingly it happens at every level. From international bodies like the UN to a wanderer in the wilderness. In the Security Council, condemnation of terror is vetoed if the terror happens to be committed by a favourite party. Countries may refuse to condemn terror because it is inflicted by an important trading partner or a powerful neighbour. In communities, you see people organizing campaigns to justify terror of their own. Shockingly, people even use religion to justify the terror of their own groups. Religious books are used to justify terrorizing an entire population because according to the book certain people have rights to a certain promised land.

People also tend to condemn only one kind of terror, not all terror. If the terror is committed by use of a knife or suicide, we all very rightfully condemn it; but if it is committed by helicopter gunships, missiles, daisy cutter bombs, depleted uranium shells, tanks, cluster bombs, or bulldozers, many people do not even utter a word.

We also let the powerful play politics with terror. If terror is being committed by a tyrant who is our friend and our installed dictator, we tend to look the other way. On the other hand, if law-enforcing authorities kill some insurgents, it becomes an issue of world peace.

In addition, it is appalling but true that people react to terror differently depending upon who the victim of the terror is. Whether people may react in horror to a killing or will take it in stride often depends on the religion or passport of the victim. Unfortunately, the value of human life is determined by the beliefs or the nationality of the victim. In fact, terrorizing a Muslim may even earn the terrorist applause instead of condemnation.

So how can we have peace if people are going to take sides on the matter of terror?

If we want to have peace, all peace-loving people must consistently condemn all kinds of terror regardless of who is committing it, who the victim is and what is the instrument of terror. Then, and only then, we can hope for peace.

Until then, I will keep dreaming and doing my best to promote a consistent condemnation of terror in the hope that if enough people do the same, terrorists may lose support and justification. And we may see peace in the society.

Ayub Hamid is a peace activist and author of a popular booklet called "Islam -- Does It Make Sense?"

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