How vital is terror in the East?
Following these attacks, we need to speak about the amount of attention the public pays to these attacks. Were the nations who presented the slogan “We Are All Paris” in the aftermath of the Paris attack aware of the recent hostage crisis in Bangladesh? Did they read about the horrible suicide attack that cost the lives of 167 people in Iraq in a newspaper column?
Have there been some who glossed over the situation by saying, “This is how things happen in the Middle East ...”? Or did a majority of them avoid the matter, saying, “That region is used to terror ...”?
The terrible bloody attacks carried out in Europe have changed the West’s outlook on terror to a great extent. However, the West’s outlook on “terror in the East” is still not much different. The only difference is that the odds of an Iraqi family encountering a terror act in a bazaar or at their doorstep is higher. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that the perpetrators, the impact and the fatal power of the act are on par with the West. Although the concept of “terror” varies between East and West, the international platform defines all the terror acts that were carried out last week with the same word.
Article 1 of the Geneva Convention of 1937 defined terrorism as “criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public.”
The UN generalized this definition as the counterpart of war crimes carried out during times of peace. According to the 1999 decree of the UN General Assembly, terror includes all criminal acts provoking the formation of a scene of dread for individuals, groups or the people in general out of political, philosophical, ideological, racist, ethnical or other reasons. The NATO regulation did not make any definition about terrorism, considering combatting against terror legitimate in many parts of the world. This also includes military intervention against terror. The EU regulation also has quite a wide-scope definition of terror.
As can be seen in the international arena, terror has a common definition. This definition does not exclude a single country and does not stipulate different treatment of any nation. Whether countries are in turmoil or not, it does not make any difference. Just as the perfidious act carried out in Belgium is terror, the one in Iraq is also terror. Anyone who loses his life in these perfidious acts has a family and loved ones; he certainly has a plan for the future. That he was born in a different part of the world and his living there does not make him “any less human.”
This leads us to the conclusion that the problem does not stem from international norms but from moral norms. Two people injured by terror, who are no different according to the international norms though they live in different parts of the world, are appreciated or depreciated by some people’s moral norms based on where they live.
This double standard wears out the humanitarian and moral structures of the circles adopting it to a great extent, causing more blood loss for “humanity” every other day. Under these circumstances, it becomes no longer baffling that communities exist who are indifferent to children dying at sea, to families having to flee their homes, or to the masses being left to starve.
According to the Global Terrorism Index of 2015, terror acts in 2015 increased by 80 percent compared to the year 2014. The first half of 2016 became the scene for more terrorist acts. In just three months, 2667 people lost their lives in such acts of terror. Within this period, terror rates expanded not only in terms of figures but in terms of scope. Europe became the scene of the most horrible terror acts in its history while the USA became the target of attacks related to its own homeland issues. Today, acts of terrorism know no bounds: It’s gone global.
In the face of this grave situation, people of sound mind must close their ranks, continue with this struggle rationally and in unity and become the majority who will preach the fallacy of terror. Yet, as humanitarian values are lost, the good people who will follow through with this struggle also lose their power.
As long as the world is losing its soul, as long as people ignore the terrible mass carnages, as long as they remain spectators to people drowning at sea, terror and hatred will inevitably gain more ground. That is because terror is nourished with lovelessness, cruelty and ferocity. As cruelty and indifference escalate, terrorists will find just the milieu that they desire and that they have been awaiting.
We need to keep this in mind: The target of terror is to create societies filled with fear, increase unrest, turn people into loveless masses that are detached from one another and thus render them despairing communities that can be easily led. The solid answer to the question, “Why do people join terror organizations?”, which is repeatedly asked today, is lovelessness and emptiness of conscience.
In order for moral norms to flourish, people need to reconsider and embrace the idea that each human being is precious and that they are no different from one another. If people don’t stop depreciating an individual because of his identity, ethnic roots or religion, the world will not get rid of this great scourge of terror. Consequently the primary and most important condition of struggle against terror is to strengthen “humanity.”
May Allah grant His mercy upon all our brothers who lost their lives in the horrible terror acts during this last week, both in Turkey and other countries, and wish quick recovery for those who were injured in these events!
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view