Since its very inception, Sunni Arab organization called Islamic State (IS, often still known by its old name Isis) or Daesh has carried out frequent shock and awe operations against opponents to its vision of the Great Caliphate. It has carried out such operations against Sunni Muslims, Shias, non-Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Kurds in Syria and Iraq. IS soldiers mete out the same barbaric and brutal treatment to locals and foreign hostages and make its determination clear to carry out war beyond its borders.
Cold-blooded point blank shooting of army soldiers in Syria, beheadings, abduction of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, rape and sex slavery, torture and execution of men – all these have made headlines for more than a year now. The brutality and violence displayed by the extremist outfit and the resulting massive flow of refugees towards Europe have pushed a few European countries, the US, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and some neighbouring Arab countries to bombard the enclaves of IS for months. IS retaliated by bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon.
The Friday coordinated, Al-Qaeda style, attacks in Paris, a scenario never imagined by the French, have horrified and shocked the country as such a scale of killings – usually a common occurrence only in war-infested regions and viewed on television screen for the past months — was the first to take place on French territory since the Second World War.
Threats of further attacks in Europe and the US are jolting politicians, political analysts, opinion makers and the public out of the political correctness that usually colour discourses on issues of immigration, integration, religion in Europe. It is a timid step towards facing ground realities and calling a spade a spade.
History tells us that fascist ideologies, be they political or religious, are imposed on whole nations by only a handful of people. For decades, leftist intellectuals, politicians, media voices have misled the public: they have consistently stood up minorities as victims. The “victim” excuse keeps being employed in public whenever some people openly deliver hate speeches and commit anti-patriotic acts in the liberal societies. This kind of apologetic stand simply condones and emboldens extremist discourses.
Now that a European country is fully hit in the face by terrorism and neighbouring countries are working relentlessly to gather intelligence and prevent further killings, citizens’ safety cuts across political parties and this has become a national priority. Expansionism and extremist ideologies have to be squarely dealt with from all angles and fearlessly exposed to the public not only in Europe but all over the world. Safety in the West should be of great concern to us as well as to African and Asian countries for obvious humanitarian reasons but also because we all have relatives, family and friends who live there, and we have strong economic ties with Europe and the US.
Europe’s political leaders reckon at last that that the rampage wrought by the extremist outfit has to be dealt with systematically. Fascist rulers and most Communist dictators once spread a reign of terror and were finally defeated. Terrorism has become a similar global scourge spreading its ideology across the world and now is the time to pursue it relentlessly and stop it from spreading further havoc across the world. With sufficient determination and insight, the world can tackle the problem before it has done irreversible harm.
The paradox for France today is that it is allied with countries whose intelligence services have nurtured and financed religious extremist ideology for the past thirty years to suit their own political and economic agendas. The US and its all-weather friend, Saudi Arabia, should be brought to an international Court of Justice and held accountable for the hell they have created by mismanaging extremism so badly.
The trauma France is going through has been also haunting India since Independence. The country had to part not only with its northern territory and eastern region. It has even then had to face regular cross-border terrorist intrusions aimed at claiming even more lands from it. French media have shown little empathy for India over the multiple attacks in Mumbai since 1993.
Out of indifference, laziness, or ignorance of the nature of India’s geopolitical issues, French journalists stubbornly view so-called minorities everywhere as “victims” and find excuses for separatist movements on religious grounds. Recently, former Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf revealed an open secret to the effect that Pakistan has harboured and nurtured terrorist outfits for the past decades. No Western countries raised their voices at the UN after this disclosure. Certainly not the US and Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of double standards in international politics.
There used to be excuses that colonization, Algeria, Palestine, ‘our brothers’ in Kashmir or Chechenya are the reasons for past extremist behaviours. In the present circumstances, this cannot be brought forth as an excuse for the extremism is being perpetrated by IS. We should bear in mind: nobody has the monopoly of grievances. Otherwise, Vietnamese and Japanese would kill Americans randomly in different countries. So would Africans in Europe. Persecuted Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan whose numbers have dwindled next to nothing do not go around shooting down their persecutors wherever they encounter them in the world.
Too late for ‘what ifs’ now. Of course, had the Syrian President given more freedom and rights to the population instead of stupidly shooting at everyone, there would have been no IS. But who knows, with all the chaos being bred in that part of the world?
The French President is not going far enough in his fight to eradicate the extremist mindset in France. The time has come to take explicit targeted actions that might appear to be going against the concept of democracy itself to arrest this sickening attempt at intolerance, if not to arrest this mindless killing of innocent people.
Right now, the web is full of hate comments on social networks. It is certainly a situation not conducive to peace and tolerance. The silent majority needs to realize that it cannot have it all, freedom and rights in free countries while also casting ‘us and them’ looks at others on a daily basis.
- Published in print edition on 20 November 2015