For decades now, significant amount of resources have been spent by countries and the international community as a whole in the fight against terrorism. Several measures have been adopted by individual countries and international organizations to counter the activities of terror groups.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s 2017 Global Terrorism Index, about 67 countries recorded at least one death from terrorist attacks, making it a year with the second highest number of countries with at least one death in the past 20 years.
However, terrorists' attacks in the last few years have clearly indicated an urgent need for a critical review of global approach to counter the activities of terrorist organizations. It has been a long and widely held perception by the West that, terrorism is an Islamic problem with its agents coming from the Middle East. As a result, this perception has significantly influenced the counter-terrorism strategies of most countries in the west, targeting mostly Islamic extremists from the Middle East.
It is, however, important to note that, this approach has not only turned out to be outdated, it has become alarmingly counter-productive with monumental consequences. Not only does this provide the Islamic extremists the right propaganda message to convince others that their religion is under attack, it has put innocent Muslims on a collision course with people from other faith.
Also, the long-standing practice of associating terrorism to specific religions has successfully shifted the focus of the world away from the realities of this global threat.
Events over the last few years have proven that, terrorism cannot be treated as a problem of any religion. The 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting in the US, the shooting at Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; the recent horrific bombings of Churches and hotel in Sri Lanka and the bombings of markets and schools in countries like Nigeria and Afghanistan are clear indication that, terrorism does not know any religion and cannot be tolerated by any. If these unfortunate events have not open the world’s eyes to the realities of terrorism, what then will?
Although the teachings of every religion prohibits violence and the killings of innocent people, some misguided persons continue to perpetuate same in the disguise of these religions. Indeed, religion has rather become the victim and being held hostage by a few blood thirsty human beings. Christians are being killed in the churches, Muslims are being killed in the mosques, Jews are being killed in the synagogues and women and children are being killed in markets and schools respectively. So, why can’t the world realize that terrorism is not a crusade against any religion, but one against humanity?
The world must begin to take a second look at the definition of terrorism and the approach of fighting it. Of a truth, this fight cannot be won if all people from all religions and faith do not work together.
Even if religious extremism alone is to be effectively tackled, then countries must be willing to work with the leaders of such religions. There must be national and international counter-terrorism frameworks that emphasizes on support for the leaders of all religions and faiths to effectively deal with the ideology of their followers, so as to prevent them from becoming extremists.
Also, this fight cannot be won, if the same crime is given a different name, depending on who commits it. There is nothing as hate crime, neither is there something as mass shooting, there is only terrorism.
The world must realize that humanity is under siege from terrorists. Nobody is safe anywhere, not even in the most sacred places of worship. Defeating this ‘disease’ is not the responsibility of any government nor any international organization like the United Nations alone. It is the responsibility of anyone who believes that humanity must survive because, it is now all about survival humanity must survive because it is now all about survival.
Author: Sayibu Ibrahim Suhuyini
International affairs blogger @ ibrahimsuhuyini.blogspot.com
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