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6 pm Sep 23, 2013

Attacks in Kenya and Pakistan - Global terrorism once more rears its ugly head

It has been a gruesome weekend. An upscale mall is still under siege in Kenya. A Church has been bombed killing almost a hundred in Pakistan. The Islamists backed by the Al Qaeda and Taliban are dealing a body to blow to the World peace and stability.
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5 questions answered | No question pending
  • What is most shocking is singling out and killing of non-Muslims. It will surely lead to polarisation across the World. Right? Asked by: Swarna, Bangalore
  • Venkatachala G Hegde All such attacks wish to create this kind of polarisation. It has already happened and has been happening. Just look at the sporadic attacks on people belonging to Sikh Community both in US and UK. Today it has happened to a Sikh Professor teaching at the Columbia University. I need not recount such similar attacks in these countries. We should not common people or `public' as we term it in these countries is equally unaware of global dimensions of these problems. They also think about them in their narrow confines and they are more concerned about their life, money and insurance etc. So their reaction is understandable. However, there are elements in our own societies and their societies who are ready to use these unfortunate developments and happenings to their own advantage. We need to beware ourselves and understand the larger context in which these are happening. I am sure most of these communities understand this and they manage it very well. I am sure that is the case in US, UK and other countries as well.
  • Do you think that the Muslim community as a whole failed to stand up to fanatics? Asked by: Clara, Bangalore
  • Venkatachala G Hegde As I know out of experience and talking to various sections of people in South Asia, it is incorrect to say that Muslim community as a whole failed to stand up to fanatics. I am sure all of us know the stories of people (of all ages) in our part of the world trying to oppose such fanatics. Some have lost their life. Threat is large and uncertain. We all need to work together and strengthen the understanding. However, this seems like slogan. But, reality is in certain societies in South Asia, people do not think the way we think here. We should understand that. While we have our own understanding and justifications, the other side also has an equally strong justifications. We may not agree. But they have their reasons. How to overcome this? Some elements are using this for their advantage, particularly long term advantage and benefit from it both monetarily and otherwise. Muslim Community in South Asia, I must admit, is very diverse and at the basic level they are not interested in these fanatic activities. Common people, anywhere in the world, are common people. They stand up only when the problem is on their doorsteps or when they perceive themselves as victims. So, it would be unfair to blame the entire community. Some elements are certainly misguided or have other kinds of problems.
  • Islamic terrorism is a reality. Why are not we admitting it? Asked by: Ananya, Calcutta
  • Venkatachala G Hegde No doubt it is reality. But, what we forget is that there is large section of common people in the Islamic world who are not part of it. They are caught in between. They have their own problems of day to day life. They are deprived of basic necessities. They have lost their nearest and dearest ones. There are also problems (and the kinds of solutions as well) with regard to the global framework towards some of the issues concerning Islamic world. A section of that world feels cheated. And some fundamentalist forces have been using these feelings to raise passions. So, Islamic terrorism is sustained on these grounds. It is appealing to some innocent and young minds. How to wean them away? There have been number of efforts towards this. We are not succeeding as much as we wish. But, we must keep our efforts. While admitting the gravity of the issue, we should also slowly work towards rebuilding new solutions to solve some of these issues.
  • Is there any solution to this global scourge of terrorism Asked by: sree
  • Venkatachala G Hegde At the global level States have been trying to arrive at various kinds of solutions. This has been happening at the United Nations, in particular, its Security Council. Number of decisions and binding resolutions have been passed and States have an obligation to implement these counter-terrorist related global treaties in their national set up. It is, indeed, difficult task as some States do not follow them. One would need political power to reign in. Should we depend on big Five in the United Nations, particularly US and its allies? It has its problems and too much power is also not good. This kind hegemonic power has been creating problems and many in the Islamic world are unhappy about it. How to address that? There is a need to look at Islam and how people follow it etc need to be examined and understood in a new sense and in the current global context. I must say Americans are already attempting to do it. It is not easy. While one approach is to use power to rein in this kind of attack, the approach is to use negotiation and engagement with concerned actors (soft power) to overcome this problem. It will take time. Technology, law and political power at the global level - all together need to work in cohesive manner to over come the scourge of terrorism
  • Don't you think that after a brief lull, Islamists are back? Asked by: Dominic, Dubai
  • Venkatachala G Hegde I agree, though I must state that fundamentalist Islamists are back. We should not generalize. There are common people even in the Islamic world who are suffering this menace. This was, in fact, expected. From time to time, various intelligence agencies and other State actors keep receiving some kind of information about this. Issue is - is it possible to totally wipe out this menace? Perhaps it might take very very long time and there is a need to change the global approach towards the entire problem of what has been termed as `terrorism'. At the international level, States (particularly United Nations and its agencies) have been concluding treaties and other arrangements to contain this problem. However, unless it is addressed locally it will be difficult. We will see such attacks from time to time. New outfits and new groups will emerge.

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Venkatachala G Hegde
Professor, SAARC University, New Delhi