News Karnataka
Friday, March 24 2023

Paris terror: Reaping at home what you sow abroad

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Terrorism is abhorrent wherever it happens and by whichever group or person. However, in a globalised world nothing happens in a vacuum. The links may not be obvious as in the case of neoliberal policies imposed on the world by the corporate fascists with the support of the capitalist and political elite. However, when, in the name of eliminating terrorists in foreign lands, by dropping bombs and drone strikes, through the naked display of military power, its effects on human lives are there to see. The images of burnt buildings, charred bodies, drowning refugees and destroyed countries and livelihood of peoples is all there to view in one’s own living room. From here it feels so impersonal and remote. It all happens there (in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Columbia. We reticently go about our way as if it is none of our business and leave it to our political elite to solve. But when that War on Terror comes home then our world collapses and all hell breaks loose. Then we start to ask questions: right ones or wrong ones. This is when one should try to put events such as the ones in Paris in the right perspective.

Cartoon Courtesy: Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons)

Bush-Blair War on Terror began it all: If most of the conflicts in the world today have their source in European imperialism of the past and the Western (American) neoliberal expansionism of recent decades, the current state of globalisation of terror can be traced back to the War on Terror (globalisation of war) unleased by George Bush and Tony Blair in 2003 after the 9/11 attacks. European imperialism and its geopolitics brought on the world two World Wars where not only the Western European powers but also the entire empires that they had under them had to bear the brunt. We know how the British participation in the Second World War caused the Bengal Famine and deaths of millions, not to mention the million more directly and indirectly having participated in these wars. In her recent book The Raj at WarYasmin Khan puts it very aptly saying: Britain did not win the Second World War, but it is the British Empire that won the war. But after the War the disintegrating European empires, from their position of power and orientalist prejudices, divided the continents arbitrarily and sowed the seeds of ethnic, religious, tribal and linguistic conflicts. If South Asia (India and Pakistan) and the lingering communal conflicts are the legacies of such partitions, what they did in Africa and the Middle East is what the world has been witnessing in the last seven decades by way of tribal, ethnic and sectarian conflicts.

In the present, all such conflicts have been turned into civilizational conflicts through Bush-Blair created War on Terror. From the outset, though it appears to be against terrorism, this War on Terror andthe discourses surrounding this never ending epic conflict have sown the seeds of Islamophobia all over the world. These discourses deployed by governments haveoffered a handy narrative and legitimacy to the Communalist, Far Right, Supremacist and Racist groups and their violence against minorities, immigrants and, especially, Muslims all over the world. Such racist, communal and exclusionary discourse is so rampantly employed by political right in Europe that their vote share in some European countries has reached over 20 per cent.

How such a discourse about terrorism and connecting it to Muslims in general is employed by HIndutva politics in India is there for us all to see in its complete nakedness. Such a discourse has succeeded in creating a general hatred of Muslims, and violence against them is viewed with little compassion. Even while reporting terror attacks one only focusses on what happens in Europe while taking little notice to the fact that in many Muslim majority countries ordinary Muslims suffer and die in larger numbers due to the same curse of terrorism. On the day terrorists struck Paris there were bomb blasts in Lebanon and Iraq killing a large number of people. When it happens in the Muslim world, in South Asia or Africa no one thinks much about them. In order to target one single terrorist if an American drone kills a hundred innocents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Syria that hardly becomes an issue for Europeans or Americans as such deaths are termed in the media as mere collateral damage in military terms. But the anger that such acts of wanton killing from above the skies directed from a control centre situated in American soil generate certainly spills over and no one wants to connect one to the other. So partisan have we become with our identity based morality that we no more see the pain and death of others as same as ours.

War on Terror and the Rise Al Qaeda/ISIS: It is no more a secret that whether it is the Taliban in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Al Qaeda all over the world,and now ISIS in the Middle East(and a number of other Extremist groups) have emerged so powerful as to take over large parts of various countries are creations of American, Western and other (ISI of Pakistan) intelligence agencies. They are nothing but the products of Western foreign policy geared towards shaping the world in its own image. But, would such creations remain under the perimeters defined for them by their makers for long? Given their fanatic and expansionist ideology they were bound to morph into racist, sectarian and dissent hating death cults. The truth was well expressed by former Pakistan President General Musharraf when he admitted that Hafez Said, ZakiurLakvi and other militant groups were trained and used by Pakistan in their war with India. They were heroes then, but now when they turned against their own people and turned to sectarian violence then they have morphed beyond their role. (This would also serve as a caution to those in India who think that Hindutva fascism cannot be equated with ISIS brutality. For racists, white supremacists, sectarian Jihadis and communalists, such as the Hindutva thugs,it is only a matter of time before they morph into fascist death cults and turn against their own people). So, in some sense Europe is reaping the fruits of its long imperialist machinations and the current neoliberalism-driven expansionist foreign policy implemented in the form of War on Terror. What it has managed to create in the world is immense amount of anger and thirst for revenge in, on the one hand, countries subjected to bombing and destruction, and on the other, within Western fortresses hordes of disaffected, alienated and angry youth who are prepared to die for some real or imaginary injustice.

Who will Bear the Brunt: Once again, the outcome of this game of thrones between,as Benjamin Barber puts it, McWorld (neoliberal market fundamentalists of Western ruling elite) and Jihad (the perpetually disaffected, expansionist and trigger happy cultural warriors such as Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hindu Senas of various ilk) is more anxiety, racial hatred, Islamophobia, identity politics and suspicion of each other. It is those 1.2 billion peace loving Muslims who live in our neighbourhood that are the victims of this game of power. This is well exhibited in France and Europe after Paris attack when people started targeting the refugees who themselves were victims of the same terrorist groups. Displacing one’s anger upon the immediately available weakest ‘other’ is what is evident today. It is like the husband who is angry with his wife, being unable to hit her directly kicks his dog to vent his anger. It is against such debasing reactions to which people are prone to that blogger John Scalzi warns Parisians and us all:

“I have many thoughts on the Paris attacks but the one I want to point out today is this: there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and what most of them want to do is live their lives, love their family, friends and neighbors, and be at peace with themselves, their world and their God.

“ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks; one of ISIS’ goals is to spread distrust of Muslims for its own ends, to end the “grayzone,”…….

“…… every time someone lumps all Muslims into the ISIS camp, the stupid, murderous, rapist, culture-destroying ISIS camp, they’re doing ISIS’ work for them. ISIS is relying on the rest of us to see the world as they do, and as they want us to.”

If Europeans, Americans and others are suffering the fruits of their nations’ foreign policy blunders such as War on Terror, Muslims in general are suffering the fruits of an uncritical Islam usurped by fanatics and fundamentalists financed by the Gulf Monarchs and House of Saud who,in turn, are propped by America and the West. In order to have a future for humanity the sooner we realise this nexus and the evil it perpetrates the world over the better the world will be. But the worry is, that instead of seeing this sinister game of thrones there are chances that we may resort to hating our neighbours for their beliefs, eating habits or for the sheer reason that they are different from us. Here is the final plea from JonhScalzi:

“So: Don’t. Don’t do what ISIS wants you to do. Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be, and to be to Muslims. Be smarter than they want you to be. All it takes is for you to imagine the average Muslim to be like you, than to be like ISIS. If you can do that, you make a better world, and a more difficult one for groups like ISIS to exist in.

“If you can’t do that, consider that perhaps you are more like ISIS than the average Muslim.”

Silence as strategy: Should we be surprised?-1About the Author: Samuel Sequeira is a Postgraduate Researcher, at the School of English,  Communication and Philosophy at the Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom. He is currently researching on issues such as South Asian immigrants in Wales, Immigration discourses in the UK and Identity and conflict.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same


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