ISLAMIST TERRORISM – Have we done something wrong?
When a terrorist attack happens, the horror is huge, rightfully. People are killed and injured, whole sections of the population are under shock. The society responds with expressions of solidarity, with public demonstrations. The political establishment evokes the unity of society; one speaks about the misguided, fanatics, the sick, performing such act. Governments call for a quantum leap in security policy. Intelligence, police and military are to step up even further their engagement in the war on terror, at national and global levels – now more than ever. The detection and surveillance of human beings is to become absolute, the migration policy is under scrutiny. But where is the root-cause analysis which must precede any political and social response?
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States and its allies have militarily occupied two mainly Muslim populated countries (Afghanistan and Iraq). Furthermore, they have sent military special forces in many more other Muslim countries, led an ongoing drone war against selected targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and in Sudan, have detained and tortured hundreds of Muslims without judicial sentence (in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere). And exactly since 2001 there have been more attacks against official institutions and the civilian population not only in the West, but in particular in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries than in all the years before that. Even official sources considered close to the US Government, such as the magazine Foreign Policy and the Chicago University, confirm that more than 95 percent of all suicide bombings represent a response to foreign occupation. More than 90 percent of all suicide bombings are anti-American or anti-Western (because most European countries support the United States in its foreign policy) and anti-Israeli (also here attributed to an occupation policy contrary to international law). One of the main causes for the emergence of Islamist terrorism is the aggressive foreign policy of many Western States against or in Muslim countries. Be it the IS in Iraq and later in Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or earlier the Mullah movement of Khomeini in Iran, the rise of Islamism as social movement and power factor is closely correlated with military interventions and wars mostly steered by Western States – often unfortunately also led for economic interests (oil, water resources, trade routes).
The vast majority of suicide bombers comes from regions that are threatened or occupied by foreign troops. But what if the bombers, being mostly of Arab descent or Islamic culture, are American or European citizens. Have we, has our society maybe then done something wrong, and not just since yesterday? Who of us really knows how it is having to grow up in rundown desolate suburbs, where life is increasingly characterized by chronic unemployment, crime, community ills, social isolation and lack of prospects? Who of us really knows how it is to have a face, a skin colour, a name, a descent, to speak a language, to belong to a religion, which immediately stamps on you the identity of a slouch social class? People who are barred from the wealth of a society, more than that, even more importantly, from the social prestige, of the respect of the community, progressively turn to religion, and often this leads to radicalization – and this not only since September 11, 2001, it has always been like that, for hundreds of years.
Statistically the Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity worldwide, with 1.6 billion people (2.2 billion Christians) and with the by far highest growth trend of all religious groups on all continents. These are just statistics, but more important is that, in contrast to the generally as Christians denominated societies, many Muslims are very religious, they may pray up to three to five times a day – faith for them represents an existential perception. Is it therefore politically intelligent and socially correct, if – based on the argument of freedom of expression – this world view of 1.6 billion people is repeatedly humiliated, as it is the case in particular in Europe and North America, when media and politics publically confine and put under suspicion Islamic and Arabic content and people? Does it make sense to refer to national law, since we live for two decades now in the age of the Internet, in which the content of national media cross national boundaries immediately by a simple click, and is thereby transmitted to billions of people all over the world? Freedom of speech, our freedom of speech, at any cost, what does that mean, freedom above everything?
We need to arrange our economic and social systems, our political self-conception, in such a way that integration, participation and respect of human dignity are central – and not just a claim. A society which makes prosperity and the value of a person dependent on money and on belonging to certain social groups, on the ability of the individual to achieve something, to be successful; a society in which rich and poor continue to split further and build trenches, in which the armaments and weapon production represent nothing but an evidence, indeed even those weapons of terrorism – do we want that? Terrorist attacks represent a sad, inhuman and despicable attack on life, are by no means to justify, but to condemn. But in response to call for more violence and exclusion, is blind and will not make our society safer and more peaceful, to the contrary.
 It’s the Occupation, Stupid. Foreign Policy 2010/2016.