Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

A radical change

Update : 02 Jan 2017, 06:30 PM

As a journalist, I often come across young people who are eager to listen to my views on global events which often cannot be explained unequivocally.

During the invasion of Iraq and then Libya, the common questions were around the justification of these actions.

While the powers involved in intervening in these states delivered relentless rhetoric about “restoration of democracy” and human rights, common educated youngsters here asked to what extent it was right to forcefully go into another country and settle someone else’s problems.

I could only smile dryly and give a diplomatic answer, which was possibly opaque.

Years later, both these countries are in turmoil -- the so-called “intervention” did little to improve the socio-political conditions of the people there. One has become the breeding ground for ultra-radicals wreaking havoc worldwide, whereas the other has descended into anarchy.

Trust me, one of my aunts is Libyan, and she has left her country to reside in the UK. According to her, the unsolicited interference has totally destabilised her country.

The point here is that, as we talk about the sudden increase of people with extreme views everywhere, most times we try to think within a localised scenario, not taking into account global events which have, over the years, impacted the viewpoints of the young.

In the last one decade, the world has opened up to the growing youth due to the proliferation of the internet. While this has brought societies closer, it has also opened up platforms for critical discussion, touching political events happening in other parts of the world.

Once, we had to rely on what the news agencies fed us. Today, there is no chance for any news outlet to provide a skewed version of a political event and get away with it. Yes, there are efforts to exploit social media to spread false news but just as fast the fabricated news spreads, they are discovered/debunked even faster.

Given that the world is in the hands of the young educated mind, pulling the wool over the eyes is so much more difficult.

Young people start developing extreme views when they find that in the name of upholding/safeguarding human rights, a charade is being played out. Most learn to accept it as the real world while others want to strike back

I will possibly not be wrong to state that countless young people feel a sense of indignation at how some former imperial nations have continuously tried to hoodwink others into playing along with their nefarious schemes.

The young people who once asked me for my opinion on certain global events do not ask anymore, simply because they now understand, quite clearly, the hypocrisy that motivates major global episodes.

While this turns many cynical, many others, maybe a handful, become enraged, thus deciding to harbour extreme views.

A news feature in a widely-circulated daily newspaper recently wrote referring to radicalisation of young minds, that the education system needs to be overhauled plus the liberal mindset needs to be inculcated.

As far as my understanding of the liberal mind goes, someone with an open attitude will obviously ask questions expecting to get clear answers. Surely, we do not want another set of indoctrinated and benign minds in the name of a liberal outlook.

In the Bangladeshi context, the youth of today are a far different breed from the youth of the 70s, who, growing up in the post-independence setting of social depredation and austerity, concentrated mostly on getting a job and staying in a servile position without raising critical questions.

In a progressing Bangladesh, and in a world where other, hitherto struggling countries are also developing fast, a new line of young people is emerging.

These people have totally shed that post-colonial hangover, asking direct questions, expecting unequivocal answers.

I feel that when they do not get satisfactory answers, they turn rebellious. Some may take the path towards extremism while others may not get involved in radical acts but may still hold very scarred views about the state of affairs.

Perhaps a survey should be done to find out if the youth of today feel whether justice or injustice takes the upper hand at the end of 2016.

Coming to the latest humanitarian suffering in Myanmar and Syria, if we try to make a comparison between these two states with Libya and Iraq, the common question may be: If an intervention could be engineered and emphatically endorsed then, why can’t any solid action be taken now in these two states where countless are suffering inconceivably?

I know, a very naïve question, but then, the young minds will ask it and sorry to say, I do not have the answer to satisfy them.

Tell me if I am wrong: Young people start developing extreme views when they find that in the name of upholding/safeguarding human rights, a charade is being played out. Most learn to accept it as the real world while others want to strike back.

Radicalism is but a byproduct of years of misleading information coming back to haunt us.

When the suggestion of “positive counselling” is mentioned, are we to believe that it aims to stop young people from thinking deeply about global events? Of course, we need to resort to constructive discussions with the young everywhere, but those who chalk out dubious foreign policies will need some sessions with the shrink too.

Hope for a better time ahead for those facing trauma in Syria, Myanmar, and others places.

Happy holidays to my readers.

Towheed Feroze is a journalist currently working in the development sector.

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