The terror attack in Paris is most disturbing. If anything it fortifies my underlining critique of religion. We can argue all we want that the essence of every faith is spiritual and therefore oriented towards peace. But the difference between a Good Muslim and ISIS, is not the difference of religion, but the difference in the way they perceive, understand and interpret their faith.
If religious text were therefore so objective, mankind would have never felt the need to evolve separate body of laws. Even the Sharia is derived from Hadiths and the Holy Book, but is not the same as the Holy Book itself. Let me make it absolutely clear, be it the Bible or the Manu Smriti, religion is full of mischievous ideas that are fully capable of being used by the cunning man to perpetrate all kinds of injustice. The only true body of ideas that I can ever claim complete allegiance to is human rights and human rights only.
But the question more importantly I suppose is what has religion turned us into? Even as we are debating the best way to fight terrorism, protests are erupting in Germany seeking a more stringent check against immigration. But the ones fleeing their home countries to seek asylum in Europe are not always terrorists are they? Many a times, the ones seeking shelter are concerned fathers scared for the safety of his 16 year old daughter, who may very well be married off to an ISIS fighter to bear 10 children in 10 years. As the fathers, uncles, grandfathers to children ourselves, does our conscience really permit us to refuse any protection to that father?
Granted, that the immigrant population will not always be the most upstanding citizens. But what studies have we commissioned to identify the percentage of immigrant population resorting to illegal activities and the underlining causes for such resort to crime? I strongly suspect that if we contain persons in conflict areas and restrain them from emigrating, then we would have thousands joining instead of 100’s. Why? Because we would have robbed the entire population, including the ones who just want to exercise their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, of their one chance at a normal life instead of a life of conflict.
It is undeniable that the underlining cause of immigration remains a feeling of vulnerability, which in turn is inspired by domestic conflict that has been unchecked by international interventions (the quality and efficacy of these interventions ought to be debated of course). To tell a family which is scared for its life and limb, that the more privileged of us have neither the sympathy nor the space to accommodate them, would be the ultimate act of arrogance which our conscience should not allow.
Yes, this can mean that 2 criminals will engage in terror attacks. But we mercilessly clamp down on them and send a clear message that extremist ideology of any kind will not survive beyond speech and will certainly not be tolerated in the form of action.
Terrorists don’t scare me. A bunch of morons using religion to justify their lust for the blood of innocents is nothing new, as the crusades taught us, as the atrocities on Hindus in India taught us and as the holocaust taught us. But what scares me is that when our character is tested by the onslaught of such poisonous ideas, we will fail. I am terrified that in our moment of feeling vulnerable and scared, we will forsake our humanity for a false sense of security only for our children to pay the price of our inactions.
Now more than ever, we must remain true to our values of compassion, love and kindness. Because if anything can save the soul of the poor man from falling into the evil designs of extremism, it is society’s helping hand and the feeling of belongingness that only we can inspire. To the rich man who funds terror and even volunteers for it, all I can say is that, you will pay for your crimes one way or the other.
Until then, our prayers remain with the victims in the Paris terror attacks and if anything, we stand by the magazine’s history and philosophy towards freedom of speech and expression.
By: Ashok G.V.
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