The onus is on us

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Not a day goes by without senseless violence occurring in one part of the world or the other. These incidents usually result in the loss of innocent lives.

These acts of violence, which are often committed by heavily armed individuals, make one painfully aware that criminals come in all shapes and disguises. They often appear to be ordinary members of society with no external signs that they will be involved in violence or aggression, even while they are mentally planning their devious actions.

There is no question that they are terrorists and criminals, for what they plan to perpetrate is an act of violence against innocent people. Such terrorists are no different than others who pretend to carry out their macabre deeds while attempting to use religion to explain their motives. In all the great religions of the world, there is no justification for such actions.

The authorities must swiftly and firmly deal with those terrorists who survive the assaults that they perpetuate. And we the public must be supportive of counter-terrorism agencies, for indiscriminate violence touches each one of us.

While in some parts of the world, terrorism is being exercised often on a large scale against innocent people through state-sponsored mandates that bomb and kill indiscriminately, there is no excuse for those fringe elements who have decided to harm innocent people in order to promote their deviant agenda.

The regional violence today may have contributed to the rise in this perverted way of thinking. It is filling minds with hate, which is a phenomenon with dangerous consequences. We have seen some of that on our own soil, where extremism and fanaticism have led to some very hostile acts against innocent people.

A line is being drawn between people. It is the “us against them” syndrome that is disturbing. Who are these “we” or “they”, I wonder? Are we not all humans? And should we not address our injustices through legal forums rather than band together and hatch plots to harm others indiscriminately? Are we not aware that there are peaceful precedents in our historical past that were used with remarkable results?

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela battled grave injustices, but they did not do it through violence, which would have in turn begat more violence. They did not tarnish their struggle with false claims of a religious or cultural fervor. Instead, they mobilized their resistance through peaceful means. And forever they shall remain icons of a civilized world.

The Muslim world is often unfairly targeted by some in the world media whenever terrorists take matters into their own hands and target innocent civilians. Islam has been unjustly maligned by those unwilling to understand and learn about a great religion. Undeniably we have had our share of terrorists who have invoked verses from the Holy Qur’an or have used other religious props when carrying out their deviant agenda. But they do not represent the rest of us in any way.

Those who today choose to promote terrorist activities while hiding behind a spiritual cloak are nothing less than criminals, bent on achieving revenge or power. Theirs is not the cause of freedom or justice or misplaced rights. It is about spreading mayhem and death, and they resort to targeting civilian areas, which only serves to expose their cowardice.

They should not expect any sympathy from those of us who are appalled by the extent to which these criminals are willing to go to spread their message of terror and destruction. There is no end justifying their means, except perhaps a one-way ticket to the gallows. And there will be no reprieve in the Hereafter. No religion that I know of condones the indiscriminate killing of innocent people.

It is time for the rest of us to adopt a more aggressive policy to denounce and reject the message these fanatics are attempting to spread through their despicable activities. The onus is on us to loudly and flatly reject their methods and means. Let us expose them and drive them out into the open.

Let the message reach them loud and clear. We do not condone their senseless violence regardless of what they perceive to be their grievances.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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