By Dr. Khalil Ahmad
Morality and fundamental rights are the first principles which must take precedence over everything, be it ideologies, religions, systems of government, on the one hand, or elites, aristocracies, theocracies, bureaucracies, dictatorships and democracies, on the other. That is the lesson that human civilization teaches us, and without which a society based on co-existence cannot exist.
It is the failure to learn this that explains the emergence, persistence and spread of world terrorism nearly unprecedented in the history of violent movements. Presently al-Qaeda, Taliban and the likes of them are its manifestations. Certain characteristics single this terrorism out as the most atrocious human activity on our earth.
This terrorism has a clearly stated and demonstrated political agenda that transcends frontiers and peoples. Not only does it envisage a theocratic world government, it is hell-bent upon making it happen at any cost. It is using all violent methods, those already in use and those never dreamt of, to achieve its goal.
This terrorism is not confined to a specific geographical area. Its members, activists, partners, supporters, and sympathizers are scattered all over the inhabited earth. In the past, they were usually concentrated in this or that specific location. This time they exist almost everywhere.
This terrorism enjoys wider backing of supporters and sympathizers all over the world not only in the Muslim population but also among those who favor targeting the centers of economic and technological powers they hate.
This terrorism believes, both ideologically and strategically, that the ends justifies the means. It has repudiated all values humans have come to hold as most precious: Love for each other, regard for human life, freedom of conscience, freedom of professing and practicing religion, the right to pursue happiness, tolerance – all sacrificed at the altar of its war.
This terrorism has unleashed a war which knows no rules. How impressive of us that if war could not be ruled out completely, at least we made some humane rules to be followed by warring parties, such as not targeting civilians. But this terrorism kills everyone including children and women. It even uses them as its blasting instruments.
Last but not least, this terrorism is the friend of none, and the enemy of all. In the past, such movements tried to win supporters. It has no such concern of earning friends, maybe because it has its supporters already on its side or it believes it is the only right path. Its theocratic agenda is narrow but it has no organized clerical authority to bring uniformity to differences tearing at its own ranks. That is why frequent internal fighting is common. It may indeed be destined, due to differences of opinion or practice, to come down hard on its own supporters and sympathizers in its puritanical countdown. This is its internal dialectic.
This makes this terrorism callously ideological, mercilessly inhuman, and dangerously destructive. And all that in the name of faith! It poses a unique threat to human civilization. It threatens to enslave free humanity once again. Forget the age of physical slavery, or economic enslavement by ruling cliques. With this terrorism raging from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, enters the specter of a new age of theocratic slavery. A new slavery of the human conscience is on the top of this terrorism’s agenda.
As it was money which freed men from physical slavery by enabling them to meet their needs independently of their masters, but it was the physical person whom money freed; his mind and soul were already free. This terrorism attempts to enslave one’s mind and soul. It is intent upon seizing political power which controls the freeing power of money also, and thus invests immense power in the hands of political masters, to enslave bodies as well as minds and souls.
Those who back this terrorism think it will enslave only others, by forcing them to embrace its truth, but they are mistaken. By its very nature, this terrorism is nihilist, directed towards excluding everyone and everything different from it. Thus, it is destined to annihilate its own self in the end. This terrorism like a black hole will gulp everything to nothingness. It is already killing and destroying indiscriminately.
The apologists of this terrorism blame the US and NATO presence in Afghanistan as the cause of its destructive aggression. In Pakistan this terrorism targets anyone and anything ever said to have any relation with the US or NATO. Also, it is this terrorism which wreaked 9/11. 9/11 did not beget it. Finally, is it US presence in Somalia and Yemen that justifies this terrorism’s playing havoc there?
We must face what this terrorism really means, if we are to do justice to it and to ourselves also. Only then, will humanity be able to fight the new slavery of mind and soul for which this terrorism is prepared to bomb the whole world to ashes!
The writer is founder/head of the Alternate Solutions Institute.