By Babar Ayaz
Relentless attacks by the so-called “Islamist” terrorists have rocked the world. In 2016 alone there have been 1,272 terrorist attacks killing over 11,772 people across the world. In the ongoing month of July, 39 terrorist attacks were reported in 13 countries taking a toll of 615 lives and injuring 740 people.
The countries that have become victims of these terrorist attacks can be categorised as those with a Muslim majority, and the Muslim minority developed western countries. Terrorists involved in these incidences are inspired by and large by the al-Qaeda strategy, which has also been adopted by the IS. The grand objective of the strategy is establishing the “promised Khilafat,” first by removing the pro-West rulers in the Muslim majority countries, and in the second phase spread it over the world.
The wave of terrorist attacks in the US and Europe at this stage by fanatics is to “punish” these nations for fighting against the spread of Khilafat, and protecting rogue governments in the Muslim majority countries. The irony is that it is the dangerous policy of the US and its allies to support religious militants to topple the secular governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria that has now boomeranged. But still the wise men in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin have not learnt their lesson.
This global so-called Islamic revolution is now led by the IS, which has carved out a state for itself taking over swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. While the world is united against this terrorist state, and much is published about its ruthless seventh century’s barbaric laws, little is known about the fact that it is organised like a modern state government. They have devolved powers to 35 governors and have proper ministries for various subjects. Their main source of revenue is oil money as they have control on some oil wells and a refinery.
With all this infrastructure in place and an alternate ideology against the capitalist democracy offered by the West, they attract the Muslim youth from around the world. The world’s socialist movement has weakened, not fizzled out, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and China’s move towards “market socialism.” The vacuum created by the default of this socialist movement has been filled in by Islamic militant movements.
The fact that they are fighting against the US and its allies creates a romantic aura around them for the Muslim youth who can be easily motivated by using the cyberspace efficiently. They blame discrimination for their failures to economically, socially and politically adjust in the countries they or their parents have migrated to. That’s the easiest and laziest way out. The extremist Muslim maybe fighting for the revival of the seventh century values, but they are 21st century tech savvy.
There are three frequently asked questions in this regard. One: is the rise of religious extremism and terrorism only in the followers of Islam, or other religions are also facing the same problem? Two: why terrorists are labelled as “Islamists” while other terrorists are not identified with their religion? Three: has this problem increased in intensity in the last 60 years? Now let’s briefly discuss these frequently asked questions.
One, the rise of religious extremism and terrorism is not peculiar to the followers of Islam; other major religions are also affected. The difference is that there are no major terrorist movements in Christianity, Hinduism, Brahmanism and Judaism. The critics may say that state terrorism on behalf of these religions should not be ignored. But the reality is that no state having a majority of people from these religions is claiming that they want to forcefully impose their religion on the peoples of other countries.
Two, the above explanation also stands for the question why religion of the Islamic terrorists is mentioned by media and most of the people. When the Palestinians started using terrorist attacks to highlight their struggle for independence, nobody labelled them as Islamic terrorists. It is the cause that is promoted by the people who commit terrorist attacks that is used to identify the terrorists involved. However, religious extremists and extremism is identified with their respective religions.
Three, one of the major reasons for the rise in religious extremism and terrorism is that the world has changed at a fast forward pace in the post-Second World War period. There has been many times more technological progress in the world than what it witnessed 5,000 years before that. Human relations, relations between the state and the people and between the states have gone through a sea of change.
Technology has shrunk the world into a global village whether we like it or not. Throughout the history of mankind there have been people who resist change in social, political and economic relations. It is people such as these who are not only resisting the change but are afraid of it. To stop the march of history they search for answers in religious fundamentals. They do not recognise that all “isms” have to adapt themselves according to the time and space they are living. Resistance to organic change leads to creating tensions and frictions in society. That is precisely what we are witnessing today. Because of the violent tactics adopted by the naysayers, the Muslim majority countries are going through a clash between the people who are forward-looking and extremists who want to pull it back to the seventh century.
Tailpiece: The good news is that market testing about the imposition of a military rule, courtesy the little-known political party, Move on Pakistan, has shown it has no takers among the major political parties, media and civil society. Gone are the times when they used to pitch one party against another, and boot out the elected governments. Is it that politicians and media have matured? To top it, resistance to the military coup by the people of Turkey has also sent not-so-positive signals to potential coup-makers.
Babar Ayaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org