The news of more than one hundred children having been massacred in Pakistan was immensely shocked me like any other normal human being who would listen and watch the sheer brutality and the magnitude of the crime. I was not shocked because it was committed in a neighbouring Muslim country. I was also not shocked because the victims were children of my own religious identity, nor because the killers spoke Arabic and were widely believed to be the members of Taliban, an organization that tries to give religious colour to its actions. I was shocked because the human beings had killed other human beings in big numbers. I was even more shocked a few months back when similar number of people including children was being killed on a daily basis for several weeks in Gaza. 2000 innocents including more than400 children and more than double the women had lost their lives then in the Israeli bombardments. Even then I was shocked not because the killers were Israeli Jews and the killed were Palestinian Muslims. Similarly, in the past I have felt shocked when Muslims were massacred in Gujarat, Twin Tower attack left3000 Americans killed, America killed millions in Iraq, there were widespread deaths in Syria, Tamils killed tens of thousands in Sri Lanka, thousands of Sikhs were killed in Delhi, or a Kasab killed hundreds in a Mumbai hotel. My outrage was in proportion again not to the identity of the killers or the killed but to the magnitude of the destruction.
The Book of God which I am committed to teaches me to revere every single human life. The whole Islamic System of Halal and Haram is based on the survival of life and the quality of life. It promotes everything that saves life and strengthens health and it bans everything that vanquishes life and threatens health. The overwhelming majority of my fellow community members do also believe in the same ideology. This is why that each time a major attack occurs anywhere they do not fail to condemn, and they condemn much more if such an attack is carried out by their own community members. But sad it is that the responses of the systems that prevail in the world today are not that serene. Their definitions of life and health, and their measures for and against healthiness, are guided not by the positives or negatives in terms of life and health but by political and economic considerations. In social matters, their permissions, promotions and prohibitions are guided by their economics, and in political matters they are guided by the identity of the perpetrators and the identity of the victims.
The response to crimes is determined not just by the religious identity of the culprits and victims but also by the national and political identity. The response is therefore either absent or extremely harsh. And more often than not it is totally unjustified ultimately resulting in bigger death and destruction than the original crime, and this destruction more often than not hits the innocents rather than the culprits or their masterminds. If the killings are by us they may at most qualify as collateral damage even if is in thousands or thousands of thousands. If it is by ‘them’ it becomes ‘brutal’ worthy of immediate and harshest response even if it is much less.
When the Twin Towers were attacked, the killers perished along with the victims. The alleged masterminds lived somewhere in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Had they lived in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or England, the response would have been different. Instead of specifically trying to get hold of the ‘masterminds’ through pressures on the government and through localized actions, it was used as the opportunity to terrorise the Muslim World. Taliban government was attacked and removed, and a full-fledged war against Afghanistan was launched with the result that more than 40000 innocent civilians lost their lives. These 40000 did not include the ‘masterminds’. They were killed about a decade later in another country, which had supported the US in its ‘War on Terror’. What a justice! Justice of the Superpower of the World! But the conscience of the country and its supporters did not rise to the occasion. There was no media to capture the dead children and women in Afghanistan, and to show the devastation in their families. That war, coupled with the recurrent Israeli aggression against Palestinians generated a permanent slur in Muslim psyche. But it was never addressed. The role of West was never discussed. The media discussed only, and is still in the same mode, the role of Islam and Muslims. The violence caused by Muslim ‘terrorists’ is being counted daily but nobody counts the violence caused to them by West, Israel, Myanmar or certain Indian elements. And Muslims are asked daily to condemn each killing by a ‘Muslim’ but they are not allowed even to question West or Israel. The result is for all to see: devastation and turmoil everywhere, not just in Muslim World. This is what is bound to happen when innocents are devastated for the crimes of the devils; when certain devils are not even recognized as devils.
If the world has to become peaceful, we will have to revisit the criteria of violence and the response to it. We have to resolve that every act of violence and innocent death, whoever is the victim, whoever the culprit, wherever the place, whatever the time, whatever the method and whatever the motive should be condemned by the whole world. West will have to recognize the fact that the genesis of terrorism has several factors, and one major factor is the role of West in Muslim countries, their support to brutal regimes in the region, and the deaths caused by Western forces in the Islamic world. Unless every single factor in the genesis of any problem is addressed, the problem cannot be solved. Let’s safeguard life through every possible effort: Legal prohibitions, moral teachings, social pressures and scientific facts.
If the world does not act NOW, it will be too late. If it continues with its present selfish approach, they must rest assured, it will boomerang on them. Moreover, I cannot buy the argument that the violence committed in the name of a certain religion or ideology is more worthy of condemnation than that committed in the name of any other ideology.
I will repeat: Let’s learn to understand violence without bias, and let’s try to eradicate every single category of violence, with the emphasis and efforts being proportional to the magnitude of each kind of violence!
Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books to his credit
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