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Opinion

March 26, 2016

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All lives matter

For Europe to now realise that it is in a state of war is not only a manifestation of the white-centric mindset that has created more than half of the world’s problems, it is also a clear affirmation of the fact that all their policies and initiatives in the area of counter-terrorism have failed.

One’s heart breaks for Ankara just as much as it does for Brussels but the time has come for the West to realise that it cannot demonise the rest of the world, bombard them and then expect their own citizenry to be safe.

The West needs to stand in solidarity with the rest of the world when we lose our citizens to terrorist attacks. That is when Western borders will be safe again. Terrorism is not a Pakistani or Muslim problem, it is a global issue that has transcended borders. Our response cannot be divided as has consistently been in the past (and remains today).

One would think that, considering the spate of terrorist attacks around the world, there would be a clear, collective recognition of the need to unite to fight against this existential threat. Despite this, there remains no single, unanimously accepted international legal definition of terrorism. Each terror attack divides us further, making sure the terrorists have succeeded. With each attack, it becomes more and more difficult to be a Muslim in any part of the world.

Was the West asleep when the US was bombing the life out of innocent women and children in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? Was the West so ignorant that its European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld the burqa ban (SAS v France), not realising that it would alienate and provoke peaceful Muslims within France’s borders? Were certain European States so blinded by hatred and intolerance that they turned away refugees from their borders not realising that these people had no other choice but to seek their help? More importantly, did the West not realise that it was creating a monster when it began funding jihadi groups in Syria to fight against Assad?

It is time the West recognised the fact that its policies have exacerbated terrorism around the world. Selective condemnation and outrage have long been their forte, allowing Islamophobia to grow at an unprecedented rate with attacks being termed ‘Islamic terrorism’ and attackers being called ‘Muslim terrorists’.

There are over 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe. Of these, those that are involved in terrorist attacks have been less than 0.01 percent. Those with radical opinions may hold a slightly larger percentage – but that, too, is a small minority in the larger context. It is also pertinent to note that the West’s policies have contributed to further radicalisation. Till there is reform in their outlook, it is not just Europe and the US but the entire world that must live in fear of a new, upcoming generation of potential terrorists.

The fact remains that all mainstream media immediately draws attention to attacks in Paris and Brussels, whereas the coverage given to Istanbul and Peshawar is limited at best. The West has been able to successfully construct this notion that the lives of white Christians are more worthy of protection than the lives of non-white, non-Christians. And the irony of this entire situation is that those who highlight the dual standard are the ones who are made to appear ‘divisive’ – rather than the ones who have created the hierarchy in the first place.

There is no doubt in my mind that my life is as valuable as that of a white woman sitting in Europe. But why is it that the white life will be mourned in Brussels while mine will be just another statistic from Pakistan? Of course, the answer is simple: Pakistan is a conflict-zone; an unsafe state battling terrorism and violent extremism. Europe is not. To say so repeatedly suffices in the minds of the Europeans and Americans but it does not in mine.

Who created the problem of terrorism? Was it those of living in the developing world or our colonial masters who not only came, saw and conquered but also divided communities along lines on a map they had never even treaded on?

The entire process of decolonisation was carried out with such speed that the colonial powers failed to address crucial socio-political realities, not only in Africa but also in the Subcontinent. Why is Europe surprised that there is so much unrest in the rest of the world while its own borders had thus far been peaceful? Time to wake up and smell the hypocrisy.

The writer is a lawyer.

Email: [email protected]

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