Wars, dedicated to destruction and bloodshed down the ages and used as a tool by communities in international relations, are continuing to wreak havoc on the world in the 21st Century. The entire world is afflicted by corruption and turmoil, such as the wars that are devastating dozens of countries, civil wars of brother against brother, genocide, mass slaughter and acts of terror. Thousands of people lose their lives in incidents of terrorism every year: Thousands are the victims of slaughter. Innocent people, the elderly, children and babies are wronged, and thousands of people are forced from their countries as refugees. Some one in four people in the world live beneath the poverty threshold, one billion lacks decent accommodation and 100 million are homeless. There is a significant rise in all areas of crime from murder to robbery, and from theft to drugs trade. The number of child criminals and children forced into crime is growing all the time. Moral degeneration is also worsening in direct proportion.
The world is facing innumerable problems. These include the unstoppable rise in armaments on a national and individual level, the devastation caused by the global economic crisis, unemployment, the increasing hostility toward migrants and foreigners, especially in the West, and the global spread of racism based on differences of language, religion and sectarian or ethnic differences.
Together with terror, racism is one of the gravest threats facing the world. Racism, which contracts at some times and then flares up again when the conditions are right again, is a sickly philosophy that lies behind much conflict and fighting. It is today on the rise in many Western countries, including the U.S., which boasts of the value it attaches to democracy and human rights and of treating all beliefs equally.
Although the U.S. has adopted a number of laws penalizing racism and discrimination for the purpose of establishing equality among its citizens over the last 50 years, legal experts, opinion leaders and the public think that racism and discrimination are on the increase. Black people and those of Asian and Latin American origin complain of being the frequent victims of racist attacks and of being deprived of even the most basic citizenship rights. Muslims, a faith group even more discriminated against than others, also say that Islamophobia is on the rise in the U.S. and that they no longer feel safe.
It is this prejudicial mindset that lies behind the killing of three young Muslims last month in North Carolina. The lack of legislation regarding Islamophobia as a crime has again been raised in the wake of these killings by an extreme American bigot. Muslims regard the way that anti-Semitism is regarded as odious and unacceptable in the U.S. - while Islamophobia is not - as a double standard. The latest development on the subject is a promise by President Obama that religious and cultural rights will be protected by legal proceedings.
While many of his policies are criticized, the way that President Obama is careful to avoid using the words ‘Islam’ and ‘terror’ together and has been keen to build positive relations between the Western world and Muslims ever since he came to power is a very positive thing. In his statement regarding the killing of the three Muslims, Obama condemned a prejudicial attitude toward Muslims and emphasized that nobody in the U.S. should be made a target because of his religious identity and beliefs. He described the attacks as brutal, shocking and unacceptable.
The matters touched on by President Obama during the White House Summit on Tackling Violent Extremism were significant. He said that the organizations spreading terror through the Middle East and Europe did not represent Islam, and were distorting the faith in the light of their own sinister aims. He underlined the need to differentiate between Islam and radicalism by saying that terrorists cannot speak for a billion Muslims.
Another message at Obama's summit address was that violence drawing their strength from extreme views cannot be fought by military means alone, and that success can only come from winning over hearts and minds, not from simply fighting terror with guns. The fact that the U.S. has grasped that using violence against violence cannot solve anything and that the solution to violence lies in winning over hearts and minds - or through love, tolerance and forgiveness to put it another way - is certainly grounds for rejoicing and will contribute to world peace. One hopes that Obama will maintain this constructive and inclusive way of speaking, that condemns violence and hatred and seeks to emphasize what we have in common, rather than our differences, and that the U.S. will be instrumental in eradicating anarchy and terror as a power that concentrates on peace, not conflict.
Obama's message at the end of his speech that young people need to be given hope and a better future had an importance all its own. At a time of upheaval and collapse at both the individual and societal level, it is the future generations, young people, who are suffering worst of all. Rather than seeking to improve themselves through moral development, young people raised in a climate of hatred, lovelessness, selfishness and self-interest are more interested in pursuing their own interests and the material living standards of our day. As a result, they take their places in society as people devoid of any moral values, with no purpose to their lives and a spiritual malaise in their hearts.
Yet what young people whose characters are still forming really need is spirituality. The way to offer them a better life is for the peoples of the world to set their differences aside and join hands in a spirit of friendship and brotherhood. The responsibility is incumbent on everyone, not just on nations and politicians. It must not be forgotten that every individual has talents he can employ in the name of good.
Adnan Oktar's piece on New Straits Times & News Rescue: