World leaders must work together to address the root causes of terror
In a span of little over a month, the world experienced two despicable terror attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, killing more than 300 innocent people and injuring scores.
On March 15, in Christchurch, a white supremacist killed 50 Muslims as they were offering Friday prayer -- the Friday noon prayer is considered the holiest weekly religious ritual for Muslims.
Five weeks after the Christchurch incident, a series of attacks were carried out in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, frequented by expats, killing around 250 people. The Muslim extremists in Sri Lanka also chose one of the holiest days for Christians, Easter Sunday, for the attacks.
And the timing of both the attacks was the same -- during times of religious significance.
The peace-loving people of the world are trying to overcome the shock of two terrible attacks that were made using religion. At the same time, they are anxiously anticipating when and where another such attack will take place.
And they have every reason to be scared.
One thing needs to be clear. Terror attacks are not always orchestrated by non-state terror outfits. Often, states and their leaders are also responsible for such attacks due to various geo-political interests.
It is often said by many leaders, including those from so-called “leading countries of the world,” that terror has nothing to do with religion. Sounds good. But, the reality is that religion plays a big role in almost every atrocity that has taken place in the world so far.
The time has come for world leaders to accept this as fact and act accordingly before things deteriorate any further.
The first thing the leaders need to do is to improve the relationships between different faiths. This should be followed by efforts to prevent religious rhetoric coming to power. If the leaders are willing to do these things, it will be easy for the international community to address menaces like conflict, ultra-nationalism, terror, extremism, and inequality.
At the same time, attention must be given to the root causes of terror.
The Israel-Palestine crisis, the Kashmir issue, the war in Yemen, and the Syrian crisis are but a few of the events which come to the forefront when discussing terror and conflict.
Things like Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism must also be discussed more openly. If these issues can be addressed, the frequency of terror incidents stands to be decreased by a great deal.
One thing is clear by now: Ideologies and the rightful desire of being in an independent state cannot be defeated by bullets, tanks, fighter jets, etc.
If this is so, then the US -- militarily the most powerful country on the planet -- should seek negotiations for peace with Taliban in an instant. The separation of South Sudan is a good example of a just struggle.
If history is any indication, very few conflicts of ideologies and fights for sovereignty were won by wars.
Even if those were won, sustainability was an issue.
It is essential to make clear that it would be absolutely foolish to support those who resort to killing innocents to gain what they want or to make a point.
Every country has the right to deal with terror, but the measures of the state must be unbiased and proportionate and there should always be efforts to reform terrorists.
Terror attacks, like the ones seen in France and Belgium, teach us that there is no fool-proof security as such in the world. Given the bleak scenario with respect to the threat of terror across the world, it is incumbent upon the leaders of the world to come together and make efforts to address the root causes of terror.
Cooperation among leaders, rising above religion ,and geo-political interests will inevitably weaken terror networks. Mass awareness programs are also needed to rid the world of terror.
The failure of the international community to act collectively and decisively as soon as possible will mean another wait for attacks like the ones in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan is Special Correspondent, Dhaka Tribune.