30 November 2008

Does terrorrism belong to any religion? : The context of Mumbai terror attacks



For the last 3 days, India's financial capital, Mumbai, has been generating breaking news in all the media across the world. On the Wednesday night, the city was hit by a wave of terror attacks. The central railway station, a hospital, a restaurant and two luxury hotels were simultaneously targeted by a group of about one dozen heavily armed terrorists. I, as most of the people around the globe, was almost glued to the television set watching the developments with utmost curiosity. This terror attack is being described as 9/11 for India and have left around 200 people dead and 300 injured.

(Scene of the final clashes at the Taj hotel, Mumbai and, the scale of the destruction wreaked by fires; photo courtesy: BBC News)

Indian newspapers slammed the government and intelligence agencies for failing to prevent the attacks, saying the country's anti-terrorism forces were ill-prepared for the militants. World media also talked about the massive intelligence failure. The people of Mumbai want their own government to look into the failure of intelligence which allowed the events of this painful week to unfold with such bloodshed. The allegations are surprising yet very true. India has already witnessed several terror attacks at various locations this year. Attack on the capital city of Delhi just over a month back should have opened the eyes of the intelligence and security agencies to remain on high alert. But sadly, it didn't seem so. In addition to this, there was dissatisfaction over the manner in which India fought with the ongoing crisis. An editorial in The Hindustan Times said that "losing our best officers to frontal assaults is a brave but utterly hopeless way of fighting modern terror".

The people initially were saddened by the incident, then a feeling of helplessness prevailed. After the battle is over at the respective places, one can sense anger mounting across the nation thinking of a possible blame game politics. What has happened is just inhuman and barbaric. Every segment of society all over the world has condemned this act. However, the most annoying thing after all the terror attacks is the blame games and political campaigns run on the religion basis. Who should be blamed?: the ruling government, the opposition or the neighbors? why do we have to, all the time, end up taking excuses from all sides. The better speaker may win the debate; but is it a matter of a debate? Are we playing with innocent lives? Is it a part of international conspiracy to create a total unrest in this entire south Asian region?

Now, lets come to the post mayhem surgery of the event. Why every terror attacks are associated with some religion? We all follow a religion for the basic purpose of leading a disciplined, peaceful, and happy life. As far as I know, these attacks are in no way a reflection of any of these aspects. To say that 'Muslims' are responsible for these attacks is just a fanatical remark. Shouldn't we avoid over-heated notion which paints all the people from a particular religion with the same brush when not all are terrorists? The terms like 'Islamic terrorism' or 'Christian fundamentalism' are heard many times in the popular media. Recently, after 29th September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western India, the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" too was hitting the headlines of most of the Indian newspapers as well as electronic media. That was because the police's had arrested some Hindus following the blasts.

How wise is the notion of putting a tag to a religion and all the associated people following such an incident? I think it is irrational to associate any tragedy to some specific religion. It may be short sightedness to make generaliztions and cast blame on any one group, whether based on religion or something else. I think, these activities are related to a specific group of individuals. Most of the times, these people use religion to justify what they have done. History is full of cases where religion was used to justify atrocities and all religions have contributed their share.

The kind of attack on Mumbai is an extremely difficult thing to prevent. A bunch of highly motivated people with some automatic weapons and grenades attack a densely populated civilians area. I believe that a person who is even willing to give up his life can not do so unless he is convinced that the cause for which he is going to die is a good one. These 'radicals' want to do good. But the problem is probably they just have a very wrong idea of what 'good' is! Many people who don't blame the religion as a whole argue that radicals are responsible for actions like this. Extremists, many young boys who have been brainwashed and are sacrificing their own lives for a radical belief. But where are all the moderates? Shouldn't the moderates stand against the extremist? May be, only condemning a particular attack is not enough. The normal people should raise their voices instead of rationalizing or justifying any barbaric acts.

The reason why any religion should not be associted to these senseless wild activities is because the victims don't necessarily belong to any particular religion, caste or group. And the weapons don't discriminate. Hence, lets work towards peaceful solutions and promote acceptance for religious diversity. In this saddest moment I extend my deepest condolence to all those who lost their lives in the Mumbai mayhem. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims’ families. We can't just say it is an exclusive case of India. Lets stand united and pray together. Lets act towards a peaceful and prosperous world.


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11 Comments:

BasantG on November 30, 2008 at 9:44 AM said...

very nice article
agree with you

Dilip Acharya on November 30, 2008 at 1:45 PM said...

It is obvious that when a person or group is even willing to give up his/their life they can create havoc, and preventing such situation will not be an easy task. But I don't understand what all the so called 'good' and 'intelligent' people are doing.

If a 'bad man' can do the 'brain washing' job to these young people, can't all those good and intelligent people also unite and try to define what is good and what is bad to them.

Lastly, I think terrorism and religions are totally different (rather opposite things) and it may not belong to any religion, but it is also sadly and repeatedly noted that, some people are utilizing holy religion to get some unholy work done. I think we can stop it only by awareness and by activating those idle 'good' people.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I liked the way you have presented the idea in this article. But the description seems to be focused on what should be an ideal case NOT what is actually happening on the ground. The ground reality is different, and certain elements in religion have been promoting the terrorism. Can't you see the result of that promotion? Nothing is going to be changed until the so called 'moderates' come to the streets; which however is highly unlikely. Hence, we can't help but to pray for all these nonsense be stopped someday.

Daniel on December 2, 2008 at 7:02 PM said...

Hi, DEEPENDRA.

I read your post. No one is saying that everyone in a certain religion is automatically a terrorist. But I am saying that religions, even moderate ones, have certain features that can make terrorism seem appealing to believers.

Terrorists do have a religion. It's the religion they were acting to promote when they were carrying out a terrorist act. We don't have to say that all members of that religion are bad, but we do have to confront the idea that perhaps supernatural ideologies may have a bit of a downside. Instead of the whitewash job some people are trying to pull. Would that be too much to ask?

snowqueen on December 2, 2008 at 7:03 PM said...

Deependra I read your article.

The issue whether or not terrorists are practising 'real' religion is irrelevant. All religions to a greater or lesser extent are based on a group of people taking a philosophical/spiritual idea and using it for social and/or political ends. Sometimes this is benign (though I think any form of groupthink is problematic as it opposes critical thinking) but throughout history religion has been used to oppress people (women usually) and justify wars. You cannot so easily distance yourself from terrorists just because they are interpreting religion in yet another way. If those religious people who criticise terrorists' interpretation of their religion were to look at themselves and the spiritual roots of their religion they would need to be honest and give up their riches and live life in service to others - don't see much of that in any religion.

That's why you can't get the 'good' to unite against 'bad' - they'd be exposed as the hypocrites they are.

Best just to live a decent life based on humanist principles and give up the childish nonsense of gods and the supernatural.

Anonymous said...

Felt pain when was attacked Mumbai by culprit spirit!
Sorrowful is, religions are not responsible for hostility! The people, who using religion for their socio- political interests, they are doing inhumane things. If religions erase out from society yet hatred hostility would not stop!
In religio-history we see hostility bcoz of ‘causes’ and ‘effects’. Sometime ‘causes’ stay behind the screen but ‘effects’ flashes.
We hav been living in trouble since beginning so far. It is our wisdom to find out peaceful solutions.

badri on December 3, 2008 at 7:35 AM said...

very good article !!1

Anonymous said...

Dear Deependra
I like your style of writing.

As you discussed in your essay, there is no point in linking relegion to terrorism because all relegions are supposed to help man kind to lead a peaceful life. But the ground reality is that cunning and power thirsty terrorist leaders as well as politicians make relegion as a tool to achieve leadership and power. The root cause of all sorts of atrocities around the world is thirst for power.

DEEPENDRA on December 4, 2008 at 7:36 AM said...

Dear BasantG and Badrijee, I am happy that you liked this post.
Dilipjee, I agree with your valid and serious concerns.
I appreciate the comments made by Daniel, snowqueen and three 'Anonymous' friends. I respect people's right to have different opinion over the prevailing issues. The diversity in the opinions is probably due to the differences in our socio-cultural/religious characteristics. well, we all tend to agree that terrorism has no religion; however, also the truth is terrorist do follow 'some' religion. I must say that the remarks made by snowqueen that 'Best just to live a decent life based on humanist principles' sounds appealing. But, I am not sure if the idea of religion and believing in the existence of god is a childish notion! I appreciate the opinion of my 'Anonymous' friend that 'the root cause of all sorts of atrocities around the world is thirst for power'.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their views over this sensitive issue. and also to all the readers who read and liked the post.

Natsu said...

Terrorism in itself is entirely a religion with followers around the world determined to terrorize and spread their influence.

Bombay attack is linked to a religion, a country and to finer details that are common between the attackers and different from the victims - this is science and science is what we believe.

DEEPENDRA on December 6, 2008 at 5:41 PM said...

Dear Natsu, at times, we tend to give opinion on some issues based on circumstantial perspectives. Religion is essentially, a strong belief in some supernatural power that control human destiny. In terms of the effect that 'terrorism' can bring (which however is always utterly damaging), your idea 'Terrorism in itself is entirely a religion with followers around the world determined to terrorize and spread their influence' might appear okay. However, categorizing 'terrorism' also is a vague idea in itself and 'terrorists' may not necessarily represent an obvious group.
Having said this, I share your frustration and anger over these senseless attacks.

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