Fear is one of the most powerful and basic of human emotions. When fear is triggered, people do what they could never normally do, think what they could never think under normal conditions, find it difficult to make judgments and lose the ability to think freely. That is why those who seek to create strife in societies always try to stir feelings of fear among the masses and generally succeed.
The first things that come to people’s minds when the word “terror” is mentioned are acts of violence and killing. Yet terror, derived from its Latin root via the French word “terreur,” in fact means “to tremble out of fear” or “to cause someone to tremble.” Therefore, the aim behind terror is usually to manufacture fear for political ends. Violence is just one way of creating fear. It can also sometimes be achieved through techniques such as pressure, domination, threats, blackmail and intimidation. In such a climate, fear prevails over legal concepts such as law and justice and dominates people’s daily lives. Societies dominated by fear begin to lose the concepts of nation and unity, develop the “us and them” mentality and end up divided. They gradually lose their productivity, creativity and joy. Over time, ignorant and angry people become even angrier, fanatics become more fanatical and opponents of freedoms prevail over the advocates of human rights. Looked at from a closer perspective, people who desire division in society, who don’t tolerate “others,” and who are angered by other ethnicities, religions and opinions benefit the most from climate of fear.
Middle Eastern communities that have for years lived cheek by jowl with the tragedy of terror, have acquired considerable experience of the outcomes to which this fear can lead and the terrifying picture it can produce in society. Divisions in countries where terror is widespread and the way that Muslims are even divided among themselves are both a cause and a consequence of terror. Terror and radicalism have found it easy to grow so long as Muslims are not united. Moreover, the anger and violence spurred by terror have also intensified. Let us remember that much of that anger is directed against the West.
We also need to analyze the fear of terror in Europe from that perspective. Radical or communist terror that has for long persisted in the Middle East has generally been ignored by European politicians. The only response to radicalism has been with bombs, while communist terror has not been considered at all. Europe is now gaining experience of that climate of fear. Maybe for the first time ever it is coming to understand the scourge afflicting Middle Eastern communities, where people are suspicious when they see a bag on the street, think that someone sweating on a bus may be a suicide bomber and are reluctant to enter public areas at all.
However, great care is needed here, because fear is always what the supporters of violence want to achieve. While we have no wish to see Middle Eastern people suffering the scourge of fear, neither do we want to see it plaguing the peoples of Europe. This warning must therefore be taken seriously: As fear is disseminated through society, giving opportunities to angry people and racists, making things easier for the enemies of Islam and preparing the ground for an increase in people who desire violence will end in tragedy. That will mean the end of liberties in that society. A fearful European society can never lead the way to further progress, make discoveries, make scientific advancements, create immaculate works of art, produce works of architectural beauty or come up with new ideas in different fields. It will lose the ability to act rationally. It will simply fear, avoid and suspect.
The fact that needs to be remembered is: Fear may be strong, but love will always vanquish it. It is illogical to believe that violence can put an end to groups that engage in violence. The last 20 years have proved that violence produces no results, but that, on the contrary, it merely fosters further violence. Rational societies have already grasped this. “Don’t bomb Syria” protests brought thousands of people together in Great Britain recently to oppose the British government’s plan to bomb Daesh targets in Syria. Increases in such objections can help prepare the foundation for the emergence of people and politicians of love.
Instead of turning their guns on organizations that engage in terror, politicians must now focus on a policy of education aimed at changing their ways. If they really wish to put an end to terror and violence and save their own societies from that black pit, then they must adopt a moderate policy they have never tried but that can produce absolute results. They must now talk about peace, not violence. Peace and love are concepts that need to be discussed at times of intense fighting and turmoil.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News: