Monday, 13 June 2016

Orlando shootings and our role in fighting extremism

     Loss of forty nine lives at Pulse (an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) nightclub) in Orlando, US is regrettable. Hate business is thriving across the globe. ISIS is using hate as political tool. Likewise, developed democracies/ establishments in west are also using hate and fear as political tools. Once an incident like this takes place, it continues to recycle itself. The list of victims will not stop here, it will keep growing. In order to reassert herself, US will react strongly. There will be more casualties elsewhere in the world. Those casualties will have implications elsewhere in the world. Hence, the cycle of terrorism and hate will continue to snowball. What are the implications? How should the great majority of normal people who exist between ideological and liberal extremes, react to this incident? If we just identify the causes of hate on both sides and work on eliminating those, the world can be a far better place. 
     Although, there is relative acceptance in US for lone wolf hate shootings because there is no law that may prevent automatic weapons falling in to wrong hands. But this was not a psychopathic indiscriminate shooting incident. Afghan origin Omer Mateen was a homegrown US terrorist who carried out targeted hate shooting at LGBT hangout, so there will be local and global implications. Though he acted independently and claimed to have allegiance with ISIS. But before any conclusive evidence could surface Donald Trump proposed ban on Muslims entering US. Muslims living in west for economic reasons will definitely take the immediate brunt. They will have to bear some social and economic grief. At global level, this war between two extreme mindsets will have its implications. One is a small minority of religious extremists and others are liberal extremists. Funny enough that both extremes are found in almost every country, society or culture of the world. In fact, the world is hostage to religious and liberal extremism. Everyone is familiar with religious extremism but not many people talk about liberal extremism which has equal share in spoiling the peace of this world. The very acronym of LGBT, abuse of freedom of speech by Charlie Hebdo (showing total dis-regard to the sentiments of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world), public burning of Quran in US, drone attacks, pre-emptive attacks on Muslims countries based on weak intelligence reports, economic oppression of west, unequal distribution of wealth, unchecked Israeli atrocities or US hegemonic presence in different parts of the world; all present the ugly face of west or hawkish liberalism. In a totally polarized world, where media shapes the public opinion, majority Muslims view west as one extreme liberal entity. Likewise, all Muslims across the world are seen by westerns as one extreme religious entity. In reality, on both sides, the numbers of extremists are ridiculously small but their marketing of hate is better than peace loving majority of the world. Unfortunately, this great majority either remains criminally silent or chooses sides based on convenience rather than principle. For example some Muslims living in sub-continent will conveniently feel good about ISIS killing westerners. In private circles, they will admire the act. In official or public capacity, they may show some humanity not to rejoice the event. Similarly, some in west may vent their anger on Muslim migrants in their countries. Others may come on roads to replay Million March like post Charlie Hebdo to avoid being social outcasts. Their ‘selective humanity’ is part of the problem because it is fueling more hatred. 
     Our generation has seen enough of terrorism. Everyone talks about the problem but there are not many viable solutions. Before we discuss solution, let us examine how a child growing in a normal Islamic household (without any extremist inclinations) may see the incident like Orlando Massacre. In normal Muslim households, kids know that Allah is the Omniscient. He is watching everything. He is even familiar with what happens deep down in our hearts. They fear Allah and love humanity. Prophet’s life is testament to the fact that hatred has no space in this religion. For them, the very idea of a nightclub where people socialize as a ‘way of life’, drink, gossip, dance and get laid; collides with the world around which a normal Muslim household is built. It is simply not acceptable. However, killing of those sexual perverts by religious perverts is also not condoned. Yet, Islam by default has always been resistent to secularism and it will continue to do so. In order to understand the root cause, we will have to divorce religious extremism from Islam. Religious extremism has an enormous appeal to Muslim youth which is largely frustrated with ways of the west. This is where our generation has to assume a serious role to check the growth of this menace among our family and surroundings. We need to teach our kids, siblings and youth that hatred is not the solution.
     However, this will only benefit our chaotic world today, when majority of silent but peace loving people in west also mobilize. They should stop buying the political sloganeering that ‘our way of life is under attack’. Muslims are not coming after your way of life, few perverts are. Those perverts are using this political slogan to gather mass and establishments in west are also capitalizing on this scenario to further their energy and hegemonic agendas. They are no different from those extremist freaks. They are using fear and hatred of their own people for political gains. Just see how this incident has triggered political point scoring among US presidential hopefuls.
     Hatred as root cause of problem may appear over-simplified. However, simple plans are the best ones. We have learnt so many complex things in life that doing simple things seems out of line. Hatred is not the means to right end. Hatred is just a burning sensation that burdens the heart. On state level, hatred is only a political tool which has immediate and larger appeal. Few extremists in this world like ISIS and western establishments are adroitly using this tool. Whereas, majority of peace loving people in east and west are playing in to the hands of this small minority. This should stop now. We should play our role to fight the hate business because our kids deserve a peaceful and better world. 
     Only Allah knows the whole Truth.