Post-Taliban dynamics, fundamentalism, activism – the need for participatory politics

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Over the past three decades, we have watched with anxiety the use of indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among the masses or fear to achieve a religious or political goal. It is used in this regard primarily to denote peacetime or wartime violence against non-combatants, primarily civilians and neutral military personnel. The term terrorism is often used with the connotation of something that is “morally wrong”. Governments and non-state groups use the term to abuse or denounce opposing groups.

In the recent past, we have witnessed with anxiety how the whole paradigm has changed and shifted in Afghanistan. The current administration in power in that country has still not been able to garner sufficient support within the international community. At their last meeting on Afghanistan in the second week of October, the G-20 made it clear that it was “laser-focused” on Afghanistan as part of its counterterrorism campaign. Such opinion rose after the IS-K claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 55 people in a mosque during Friday prayers. This will apparently cast a shadow over efforts regarding humanitarian aid to the affected Afghan population.

Various political organizations have been accused of using terrorism to achieve their goals. These organizations include right and left political organizations, nationalist groups and religious groups. It was also recently revealed by the Counter Extremism Project that many pro-Islamic State comments that promote violent extremism remained on social media sites, primarily Facebook, until the first week of October. A new IS video was also found on several websites. Likewise, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content has been found on the Steam platform.

Although legislation declaring terrorism a crime has been passed in many states, there does not yet appear to be a consensus on whether or not terrorism should be considered a war crime.

It may be noted here that in November 2004, a report prepared by the Secretary-General of the United Nations described terrorism as any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants for the purpose of to intimidate a population or to force a government or an international organization to do or refrain from doing an act ”. Nevertheless, the international community has been slow to formulate a universally accepted and legally binding definition of this crime. The lack of agreement appears to stem from difficulties associated with the fact that the term “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged. The same is true in the context of fundamentalism.

Nevertheless, it should be understood that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in public opinion, or a group of people for political ends, are unjustifiable, regardless of political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic considerations. , nuns, etc. that can be invoked to justify them.

At this point, we must refer to the different types of action that are considered today as part of the paradigm of terrorism or fundamentalism. They understand-

a) Political terrorism – this is violent criminal behavior designed primarily to instill fear in the community, or a substantial part of it, for political purposes;

(b) Non-political terrorism – malicious action which is not directed for political ends but which manifests “a conscious intention to create and maintain a high degree of fear for coercive purposes aimed at promoting individual or collective gain rather than the achievement of a political objective “;

(c) Quasi-terrorism – this includes activities incidental to the commission of violent crimes which are similar in form and method to genuine terrorism but which lack its essential ingredient. The main goal of quasi-terrorists is not to induce terror in the immediate victim as in the case of genuine terrorism, but the quasi-terrorist uses the modalities and techniques of the real terrorist and produces consequences and consequences. similar reactions.

However, one aspect is clear with regard to terrorism. Whatever the behavioral typology of international terrorism today, it is generally linked to the following causes: social revolution, religious extremism, fundamentalism, sectarianism, and far-right or far-left beliefs. Another aspect must also be accepted. In many cases, terrorist attacks are carried out by a terrorist group to bring international attention to that group. We have seen this happen in the case of Al Qaeda through their September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States. Currently, we are seeing other different terrorist groups like ISIS bringing attention to themselves with violent militant actions against civilians.

Analysts have therefore suggested that terrorist organizations do not select terrorism for their political effectiveness. Individual terrorists tend to be motivated more by a desire for social solidarity with other members of their organization than by political platforms or strategic goals, which are often obscure and undefined.

Reference should also be made here to an interesting investigation carried out by Paul Gill, John Horgan and Paige Deckert on behalf of the UK Department of Security. Apparently 43 percent of lone wolf terrorism is motivated by religious beliefs. The same report states that just under a third (32 percent) have pre-existing mental health issues, while many have these issues upon arrest. At least 37% were living alone when planning and / or executing their event, 26% were living with others and no data was available for the remaining cases. 40 percent were unemployed at the time of their arrest or terrorist act. Many were chronically unemployed and struggled constantly to retain any form of employment for a long period of time. 19 percent experienced disrespect from others, while 14.3 percent were victims of verbal or physical assault.

The discussion of activism requires an understanding of the term activist. In this context, it should be understood that an activist, as a name, is a person who uses activist methods in pursuit of an objective. In general usage, an activist or activist group has a confrontational approach and displays aggressive behavior or attitude. It is also sometimes used, according to strategic analysts, as a euphemism to refer to terrorist or armed insurgents. However, this religious meaning should not be confused with the word belligerent used to describe the extremist religious behavior encountered by some who, because of their extreme religious beliefs or ideologies, take up arms and become involved in war, or who commit acts of violence or terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist religious agendas. These extremist groups can be of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish religious affiliation. It should be understood in this regard that Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions does not legitimize attacks against civilians by militants who fall into these categories.

However, it would be relevant to mention here that the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on terrorism (42/159 of December 7, 1987) which condemns international terrorism and sets out measures to combat this crime, contains a condition: ” that nothing in this resolution may affect in any way the right to self-determination, liberty and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, of private peoples by force of this right, in particular of peoples subjected to racist regimes and foreign occupation.

The above points were raised during a recent discussion of the terrorist and militant attacks that took place in the near past in different parts of the world – New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Participants discussed the above aspects associated with terrorism and activism. There were differences of opinion. However, it was generally agreed that measures must be taken to deal with such undesirable situations through carefully coordinated policy formulation and appropriate legislation. This was underlined by the adage “Prevention is better than cure”.

It was emphasized that when developing such a policy, public sentiment, acceptance, religious tolerance, societal norms and behavior towards other members of the community must be carefully assessed to gain a more perspective. clear of the existing situation. In this regard, it should be understood that there has been a general change due to digitization and the widespread use of social media. This in turn led to a shorter attention span and less interest in reading long texts.

There was also a general consensus that announcements, news, events, and communications through television, whether through a television message or a television scroll, were considered more trustworthy and genuine by the public. The use of broadcast media – radio, FM and community radio was seen as the second best alternative to communicate a political decision on the fight against terrorism.

There was also general consensus that the communication of a political decision on a sensitive topic like terrorism and the measures that need to be taken in this regard could also be successfully implemented through more responsible use. Internet and social media. It was also agreed that the communication of a political decision on these issues could also be facilitated by the use of SMS in mobile phones.

Reference was also made not only to the need for prison reform and education of inmates to prevent radicalization within the prison, but also to the creation of a support structure for the rehabilitation of those in prison. were faced with such a situation. Another important factor was also agreed. It is linked to the participatory discussion in educational institutions with the young population and representatives of different segments of society, in particular civil society and cultural and religious cross-sections. This approach has been particularly proposed not only for urban areas but also for outreach campaigns in different sub-regions of Bangladesh.

Such a participatory approach would not only strengthen civic awareness about the harmful effects of violence, fundamentalism, terrorism and activism, but would also create the force necessary to be able to successfully combat the osmotic influence of terrorism and activism.

Muhammad Zamir, former ambassador, is an analyst specializing in foreign affairs, the right to information and good governance.

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