Humanity in the grip of terror

An armed police officer stands on duty outside Manchester Piccadilly train station in Manchester, northwest England on May 24, 2017, following the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena. Police on Tuesday named Salman Abedi — reportedly British-born of Libyan descent — as the suspect behind a suicide bombing that ripped into young fans at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP

While the world was still in shock over the terrorism attack in Manchester the other day, a similar incident was carried out in London with many people being injured and scores losing their lives. Nigerians appropriately joined the rest of the world in condemning the attack. The response by the British government was characteristically swift, in both locations, while the apparatus of investigation swung into action and carried out arrests. It must therefore be said that just as no nation can defy the will of the international community, perpetrators of terror must come to accept that there is no place for them to hide. The overwhelming good in the human spirit will prevail over evil. Combating terrorism is a task for all.

In Manchester, 23 people died outright and 62 were critically injured. The victims included children and their parents who had gone to the concert as a family outing. It was yet another mindless crime against humanity. The arrests so far revealed the perpetrator to be a 23-year old university drop-out. In London, Closed Circuit Cameras captured the pictures of the terrorists as they headed for the crowded facility in the heart of the City and they were gunned down by security personnel.

The peoples of both cities responded appropriately. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, promptly visited Manchester, the industrial centre of Britain. In their organised system, military personnel were deployed to assist the Metropolitan Police who traditionally are the ones having to have contact with the populace. The nation’s special anti-terrorism squad took charge. At various times, the situation was described by stages of criticality. It was an example of leadership working within a structure and system. In Manchester, the international football match was allowed to hold, as an assurance to the populace and a message to the world that life had to continue.

Many nations have contributed to the education of humanity in countering terrorism. In September 11, 2001, after the World Trade Centre bombings, then President George Bush attributed it to “a perversion of Islam, a beautiful religion.” Years later, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf said of “extremism is a mind-set; terrorism is a crime.” After one terrorist attack, a British-born Muslim said: “To kill innocent men, women and children is not a religious ideology but insanity and Islam teaches us that the perpetrators will go to hell.” Nigeria’s experience added to the education of mankind.

In addition, all have learned much about the conditions that provide fertile soil for radicalising youths all over the world. Young ones are hollow, lack hope and are disillusioned with the human agenda that does not offer satisfactory answer to the mother of all questions: what is the purpose of existence? In such a frame of mind, they are easily attracted to novelty. The world has been confronted with the negative use of the social media as a medium for radicalisation, even within the confines of a home.

Parents have been enjoined to enlist by checking what their children and wards read on social media. In Nigeria, there is the peculiar challenges of children going to foreign countries for education. On their return, they are a mixture of cultures and often do not fit properly into the environment of their native land. Sadly many of them do not speak the indigenous languages, the compendium of the enlightenment and ways of life.

The recurring catalogue of barbaric acts throws up many questions for humanity, especially for each man or woman. History has chronicled the cruelties perpetrated by humans, ostensibly in the name of religion. During the crusades of the church in the middle ages, self-appointed defenders of the faith (defensor fidei) plundered many nations. At that time (and till date), such acts were clearly contrary to God’s true teachings which forbid harming others.

As individuals condemn the savagery of the modern-day extremists, the question must be asked: “Who is free of the same mindset that is caged in the correct or incorrect interpretations constituting the tenets of a sect? Even those with the highest academic qualifications are not freed from this incarceration of the mind. Till this day, such people oppose and reject every extension of knowledge and consequently view everything through a prism, with a willful refusal to enter into other thoughts. They are unable to think laterally from received orthodoxies. Consequently, their judgment is hasty and obstinate, resulting in irrational behaviour.

The entire humanity is justified in crying out against the marauders threatening global peace and security. All the lessons being garnered must be applied to tackle the menace. While the authorities in each land deploy the machinery for security, all peace-loving men and women must enlist in the complementing battle of ideas. As the well-known song states: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”



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