By Pritam K. Rohila Ph.D. : Last Sunday (December 14), Boko Haram’s terrorist attack resulted in death more than 32 and kidnapping of 185 people, in northeast Nigeria.
Two days later, (December 16), national security forces killed a self-styled Muslim cleric who had taken people hostage at a café in Sydney, Australia.
The same day, seven Pakistani Taliban fighters attacked a prestigious school for children of military personnel, at Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan. Close to 150 individuals, including more than 130 children, were killed and more than 120 were injured. (Three English medium schools in Peshawar were attacked by militants on December 22, 2008)
Terrorist attacks have been in the news ever since the September 11, 2001, and deaths from these attacks have increased five times since then. Many of these attacks were religiously inspired.
Most of the terrorist attacks around the world have been committed by four outfits – Al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, ISIL, and the Taliban. All these groups are associated with Islamic fundamentalism and extremism.
Attacks by Muslims extremists have perhaps been inspired by teaching of Ibn Taymiyyah, a 13th century Syrian theologian. Affected by the carnage committed in 1258, by Mongols, at Bhagdad, the then capital of the Caliphate, he enjoined Muslims to return to earlier interpretations of the Quran, inspired them to oppose reformation in Islam with militant Jihad. Since then Muslim leaders have resorted to literalism in interpreting religion, and admiration of extremist militants, whenever they are threatened militarily by non-Muslims.
While it may be true that many terrorist attacks in the recent years have been committed by Muslims, it is also noteworthy that about 80 percent of the terror victims around the world have also been Muslims. And a large majority of victims have been from five Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
In spite of September 11 and Boston Marathon attacks, the United States was the least effected by terrorism!
Further terrorist activity is not unique to Islam and Muslims. Terrorist attacks have been committed in the past also by non-Muslims – by some Christians in Northern Ireland, some Sikhs and Naxals in India, some Hindus in Sri Lanka, some Buddhists in Myanmar, and some Native American and Blacks in the United States.
Experts have attributed terrorist attacks to factors like inter-community hostility, state sponsored violence and human rights abuses, high frequency of violent criminal activity. None of these factors has anything to do with Islam or any other religion!
If we are really committed to reduce terrorism, we must seriously make all efforts to accommodate aspirations of marginalized and disaffected groups, and to incorporate them into the society’s political process. This would give them genuine opportunities to resolve their grievances through political participation without having to resort to violence.
Further, we must avoid military interventions like those made by the United States and Russia in recent years. Evidence is clear that they do nothing but increase violence. And sentiment against these powers is used by terrorist outfits to recruit and motivate new recruits for their cause.