Lately terror has become a concept we encounter on a daily basis. Sometimes a communist organization, sometimes a fascist group, and sometimes radical and separatist factions assume the responsibility of these acts. Just last month the world faced heinous terror attacks ranging from Yemen to Iraq, from Nigeria to Pakistan, from Turkey to Belgium and Ivory Coast. It is alarming to see the number and the scope of attacks that are escalating day by day.
I hate to evaluate these acts of terror in terms of cold statistic records but in order to demonstrate their magnitude, I will have to present some horrifying figures. As per 2015 Global Terrorism Index, terrorist activities increased by 80% in 2014 to its highest documented level. Also, we see that terrorist activities are particularly concentrated in five Islamic countries, which make up 78% of deaths: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.1 It is terrifying but some people assess these brutalities as the natural dynamic of the Islamic World and simply move on to their daily lives without taking into account that these are human lives that are at stake. However, the latest blasts in Paris and Brussels left the world in shock. This showed once again that terror has no borders and that it is also a threat besieging the West, as well.
These attacks galvanized a global awakening to counter terrorism and the leaders from all over the world gave messages of condemnation. The reactions and the ways of respect following these vicious bombings were unfamiliar compared to the other terrorist acts in other parts of the world. For example, the Eiffel Tower turned off its lights in memory of more than 120 people who lost their lives in the Nov. 14 Paris attack and changed its light to the colors of the Belgium flag right after the Brussels blast last week.2 Many people all around the world showed their solidarity by changing their profile pictures into the flags of France and Belgium in their social media accounts. Obama, who was paying his infamous official visit to Cuba after 88 years of break between these two countries, expressed his solidarity with Belgium with these sincere words:3 "We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible," and he ordered the US flag be flown half-staff in the White House and all the public buildings to show respect for those killed in the Brussels bombing.4
I strongly condemn these terrorist attacks that put fire in heart of Europe but I also condemn the attacks in my homeland Turkey, in Ivory Coast, in Pakistan, in Iraq, in Syria and in every corner of the world and I am ready to show my solidarity in every way I can both as a Muslim and as a human being. All these attacks partook within the scope of 10 days. To name a few for example, in Ivory Coast 16 people were confirmed dead after the gunmen stormed into three hotels in the beach resort city of Grand-Bassam.5 Two days prior to the Pakistan suicide bombing that left at least 69 dead and more than 341 wounded6, another suicide attack took place in a soccer stadium in the city of Alexandria in Iraq, martyring 41 people and leaving 105 injured7. Since last June, my home country Turkey, on the other hand, has been exposed to six attacks that ended the lives of 150 innocent people and left more than 500 injured. However, none of them grabbed enough attention in the international news reports and media, like the Paris and the Brussels attacks did.
However, it is promising to see people be united against terrorism and showing their tribute to the sufferers in these attacks in Europe but I can’t help myself thinking why only European countries and not to the others that are hit by bombs almost daily. At the same time, it is satisfying to come across some conscientious columnists who took the courtesy of penning these double standard some people show in the aftermath of these barbaric blasts.
Against all odds, it is not fair to put all the blame on the West. However who is responsible for this and what can we do to declare the world that Muslim lives matter just like Europeans and Americans? There is a prejudice against Muslims in the world and they are in state of fear when they hear the word Islam because they feel Islam equals to terrorism, bigotry, and being distant from the beauties of the world. Furthermore they feel Islam equals to backwardness and to hate. The list is quite long. I believe it would be a waste of time to just elucidate a Western view of Islam, on the contrary we have to come to terms with the idea that there is an issue of bigotry in Islam which is totally divorced from the Qur’anic morality and find a solution within ourselves to remove this bias.
The radical mindset that has prevailed all over the Islamic world is giving the most harm to Islam itself. This bigoted ideology exhibits as if it is very difficult to practice Islam despite the fact that in the Qur’an God recites the opposite: “We will ease you to the Easy Way.” (87:8) In this fabricated form of Islam, there is an understanding that is completely against the nature, rationale and creation of humans. In this erroneous understanding, women are oppressed; people from opposite beliefs are hated or punished. In their world, the religion should be linked with misery and this somehow proceeds to be in the forefront with the most radical voices heard the loudest. This image certainly causes rage in the Western world. Yet, Westerners should not fall into the trap of considering all the Muslims as unclean, unkempt individuals who endorse distorted religious speculations mixed with superstitions and cultural traditions, because they are not and extremists represent only a minority in Islam. Extremists speak only for themselves; they are a majority only in their fevered delusions. On the other hand, the truth is that the Islamic world should be the center of quality and civilization more than anywhere in the world because Islam offers a groundbreaking view of quality and beauty in the Qur’an. Muslims are supposed to be the people of highest quality just like our beloved Prophet (pbuh) as he was the most sophisticated and most refined person of his time.
Consequently beyond everything else, human life is what matters the most in this world and all people should show solidarity and respect to the ones who get hurt in terrorist attacks regardless of where they are from, what color they are or what faith they believe in.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Tehran Times & Harakah Daily: