Losing the Fight

The prime minister’s statement on Wednesday that terrorists could strike anywhere, at any time, hardly provides any useful information, let alone induces confidence in the government or security agencies actually knowing what threat they claim to be facing or capable of successfully overcoming.

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Terms of Division

One of the most interesting – often intriguing – aspects of any conflict is the role of language in either calming or inflaming feelings of apprehension, division, fear and hatred that lie between the conflicting parties. In the aftermath of 9/11, the world was introduced to the term “terrorism” and “terrorist” under a new definition – a considerably vague and loose one. Suddenly, the whole world seemed to be engulfed by, or engaged with the “war on terror” in one way or another. Parties on opposing sides of the same conflict would each claim to be fighting terrorists and waging war against terrorism. This evolved to include terms such as radicalism, fundamentalism and extremism, and the impact was to spread the net of suspicion and animosity much further and wider than was allowed by the term “terrorism”

The New Fundamentalism

Reading Hassan Butt’s piece in the Observer, “My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror”, I couldn’t help but think of how much his likes have to do with the dire security conditions we all face today. Despite his claim to have repented, I would ask to be forgiven for being less than sympathetic and congratulatory in my tone, as it was probably he and his comrades who stood outside mosques, community centres and lecture halls, heckling and, at times, physically attacking me and my colleagues for talking about the need for dialogue, for reaching out to all human beings and about promoting universal human rights that include all people, regardless of faith, race or colour.

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Leave Religion out of it

When I first heard that someone had shot and killed 32 people on an American university campus, the first thought that came to mind was: Please God, let it not be a Muslim! By the time the full details of the horrific tragedy unfolded, it was clear that he wasn’t, although a brief moment of dread emerged when the shooter was described as Asian.

Of course to the victims of that massacre on that campus in Virginia and to those who loved and knew them, it wouldn’t have mattered one way or another what faith the killer followed, which nationality he belonged to or what ideology, if any, he subscribed to.

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Torture by Degrees

When a BBC online worldwide poll shows that a third of 27,000 respondents believed some degree of torture was acceptable when dealing with terrorist suspects, we should be seriously concerned.

That so many people from 25 countries can even begin to think that such methods can be of any tangible use in combating terrorism or any other crimes the world may be facing, is worrying, and should make us reflect on where we have arrived at as a human race and what we have become. It’s notable that among the highest rates of those who thought torturing suspects was acceptable or of benefit, were in the US (36%) and Israel (43%), with 24% of those polled in the UK agreeing.