We must rise to their challenge

In recent times, many European countries have been challenged and continue to be challenged by a spate of violent actions perpetrated by some blood-thirsty hounds that have been mistakenly regarded as human beings. These acts of aggression have understandably been classified as acts of terrorism. When these hoodlums throw their bombs into huge crowds of people and when they run their vans into a crowd of revellers or begin to stab people indiscriminately in densely populated areas of the city, it is obvious that they do not care if their victims are Christians or Muslims, persons of any other faith or of no faith at-all. All they want to do is to kill.

The circumstances raise very important questions. Why, for instance, do they not care whom they kill? If they feel that government has failed them as many claim is the fundamental reason for this taste for bloodletting, why don’t they discuss their problems with their parliamentary representatives and together find a solution to them? Why have they bluntly refused to be civil and law abiding? Why do these armed robbers cherish all the tension they create, which tends to culminate in racial hatred and uncertainty in European societies?

Not long ago, the world bore witness to the social and political upheavals that engulfed the entire Nation of Islam, dubbed the Arab Awakening. It was dubbed the Arab Awakening but since those events happened which brought down and replaced so many governments during the early part of this decade, how many of those state actors have woken up from their slumbers? It is doubtful if any of

them has, because, seven years after the overthrow of those governments which were alleged to be autocratic, one would have thought that these Arab countries would have begun to relish in the dividends of democracy and long overdue political and economic reforms. But that was not to be. Instead, war and economic uncertainty became the hallmark of the new governments of the people and the people themselves have continued to suffer, even more than they did in the days of the autocratic governments that they so eagerly helped to ouster from public office. That is a lesson we all have to learn from.

If there is anything that the so-called Arab Awakening has achieved so far in these seven years, it is the fact that it set the stage for an upsurge in violent activities in many European countries.

A catalogue of the most recent atrocities perpetrated by terrorists in Europe alone will shock anybody. We still vividly remember some of their curious and dastardly actions. Most of us still remember how on 7 January 2015, two masked gunmen carried out a bloody terror attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris. The two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi killed 12 people during lunch time at the newspaper offices in the French capital. A policewoman was killed the following day. And on 9 January, another terrorist killed four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.

In series of chilling attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, 130 victims were killed and hundreds of others injured. It was said to be the most deadly assault on French soil since the Second World War. A suicide bombing at the Stade de France stadium was followed by more explosions and shootings at popular bars and restaurants in Paris. Three gunmen also opened fire in Bataclan Concert Hall and killed spectators who were watching the Eagles of Death Metal perform.

On 22 March 2016, the bombing in Brussels killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 others in a day of terror. There were two suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and another bombing at a Metro station in the Belgium capital.

On 14 July 12016 a terrorist in a lorry mowed down revellers who had just finished watching a firework display to mark Bastille Day in France. The horrible rampage killed 84 people and injured hundreds of others on the promenade in the seaside town of Nice. The attacker Mohamed Bouhlel, a 41-year-old Tunisian-born French citizen was shot dead by security forces.

On Tuesday, 26 July 2016, armed men stormed into a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in Northern France during mass, and slit the

throat of an elderly priest, Father Jacques Hamel, and took four other people hostage. Police shot the attackers dead. The Islamic State, ISIS, claimed responsibility.

On 26 July 2016 a doctor died after being shot in a Berlin hospital during the fifth horror attack in Germany in just over a week. The string of violent attacks started when an axe man hacked passengers on a train in Wurzburg on Monday 18 July. On Friday, 22 July, a young Iranian-German gunman went on a deadly rampage in Munich after being inspired by far-right killer Anders Breivik.

In two separate attacks on Sunday, 24 July, a man blew himself up in Ansbach and a man killed a pregnant woman during a machete attack in a Reutlingen Louvre knife attack.

On 19 December 2016, attacker Anis Amri drove a lorry into a packed Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring more than 60.

On 3 February 2017, a knifeman was shot while trying to attack a group of soldiers guarding the Louvre in Paris. The attacker reportedly cried ‘Allah Akbar’ and drew a machete on the soldiers after being told he could not enter the Louvre Carrousel shopping centre with two backpacks.

On 22 March 2017, London attacker Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing two men and two women and injuring many others. The knifeman crashed his car into the railings outside Parliament, got out and ran into New Palace Yard where he stabbed a brave police officer to death. Masood was shot dead by armed police.

On 7April 2017, four people were killed and at least fifteen injured when a man drove a truck down a busy shopping street. Rakhmat Akilov, a failed asylum seeker from Uzbekistan, was arrested and charged in connection with the attack. The 39-year-old was said to have admitted being a member of ISIS and had told police investigators that he had achieved “what he set out to do”.

On 20 April 2017, a policeman was killed on the Champs Elysees in Paris in what was treated as a terror-related attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing which came just days before the French presidential election. The gunman, Karim Cheurfi, was a 39-year-old who allegedly served 15 years in prison for three attempted murders. He was shot dead at the scene.

On 22 May 2017, the Manchester terror attacker killed at least 22 people and injured 59 others at an Arianna Grande concert at Manchester Arena. A lone

suicide bomber detonated explosives among teenage fans leaving the concert at 10.33pm.

And on 2 June 2017, the London Bridge terror attack in London killed at least seven people and injured 58 others while in nearby Borough Market on that same Saturday, three knifemen were shot dead by police after mowing down pedestrians on the bridge and going on a killing spree at pubs and restaurants at 10pm.

We must not make any mistakes as to the real motifs behind these seemingly interminable spates of violent actions. These violent actions, mostly classified as acts of terrorism, have absolutely nothing to do with religion, either Christianity or Islamism or any other religion for that matter. It has to do purely with armed robbery, brigandry and a sickening desire to re-distribute wealth.

Whether it is Boko Haram in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, ISIS in Syria or isolated cases of terror attacks in Europe, they all share one fact in common: to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty as a stepping stone toward a re-distribution of the wealth of communities and countries they consider as wealthy. So when some people claim in the midst of all the confusion that the Muslims are responsible for this and that deadly attack because they hate European lifestyles it is important we know that this is not an absolute truth. Unfortunately, many people, including important government officials, buy into some of these senseless ideas and so help create more tension in communities which should ordinarily be living in peace and in respect for each member of the community, knowing that so many among them come from diverse backgrounds and culture. Then everywhere you go, the tension can be felt, even in the air.

Has anyone pondered to think that in the Muslim world, although Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims, not every Muslim belongs to the same Islamic sect?

The Sunni Muslims are about 84% of all Muslims. Sunni means “tradition,” and Sunnis regard themselves as those who emphasize and follow the traditions of Prophet Muhammad and of the first two generations of the Community of Muslims which followed the Prophet.

A number of movements to reform Islam originated in the 20th century. Some were limited to the country of their origin while others had broader influences. For instance, there were such Sunni movements as the Wahhabis, the Muslim Brotherhood and Jama`at-i-Islami.

On the other side of the Muslim faith are the Shi`ite Muslims which make up about 10% of all Muslims. Shi`ites are the “party of `Ali”. They believe that Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali was his designated successor (imam) and that the Muslim community should be headed by a designated descendent of

Muhammad. Three main subgroups of Shi`ites are Twelvers (Ithna-`Asharis), Seveners (Isma`ilis), and Fivers (Zaydis).

Between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims in some Arab countries there is a lot of acrimony that has defied compromise. In other words these two sects find it very difficult to agree on issues even in hard core Islamic countries like Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya and Somalia.

There are the Sufis who are regarded as Islamic mystics. Sufis go beyond external requirements of the religion to seek a personal experience of God through forms of meditation and spiritual growth. A number of Sufi orders, comparable to Christian monastic orders, exist. Most Sufis are Sunni Muslims, although some are Shi`ite Muslims. Many conservative Sunni Muslims regard Sufism as a corruption of Islam, although most still regard Sufis as Muslims.

There are the Bahai’s and Ahmadiyyas, 19th-century offshoots of Shi`ite and Sunni Islam, respectively. Bahai’s consider themselves the newest of the major world’s religions but recognize that historically they originated from Shi`ite Islam in the same way Christianity originated from Judaism. Ahmadiyyas regard themselves as Muslims. Most other Muslims, however, say that neither group is legitimately practising Islam and regard members of both groups as heretics — people who have a corrupt and disused Islamic belief and practice.

And then there are the Druze, the Alevis and the Alawis who are small, sectarian groups with unorthodox beliefs and practices that split off from Islam. Druze and Alevis do not regard themselves as Muslims and are not considered Muslims by other Muslims. Alawis have various non-Islamic practices, but debate continues as to whether they should still be considered Muslims.

These days, media coverage of terror activities has become so frequent and so familiar that it appears to have also become a part of lifestyle in European countries. It should not have been the case. All over the world, it is the duty of government to create wealth. And there is not one government anywhere that will not readily defend its culpability in providing work and work opportunities for its myriads of young school leavers and skilled population. Government will always claim ‘we are doing our best in our circumstances’.

But it now looks like the best of government’s efforts has not paid off. As far as these people are concerned, what is needed today is not the continuous creation of wealth through jobs and job opportunities but an outright re-distribution of available wealth. So, they join gangs that rob homes, banks and corporate establishments. They join gangs that kidnap for ransom. They join gangs that terrorise communities in the hope that they would somehow be able to re-distribute wealth in those communities which are afraid of challenging their raw guts.

They hide under the cloak of religion to perpetrate their nefarious acts of brigandry. And most times the public is deceived because these are experts in fooling the public and making it look the other way while they do what they set out to achieve.

In all this, however, there is a point we must take into full consideration. There is a question we must have to answer. Is it possible that all Muslims of various sects can be united in their hate against Western culture or way of life? If they are not united in their religious beliefs, can the different segments of their Islamic faiths possibly unite them over an imaginary common enemy? I don’t think so. What I think is happening is that these blood-thirsty thieves who want to re-distribute wealth are using the cover of Islam or any other religion to commit atrocities in the land. Their time should be up soon. If wealth in the land has to be re-distributed, there are proper channels to do so. It must not be by shedding the blood of innocent men, women and children who are already victims of a lopsided aggregation of wealth in the world. We must rise to their

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Emeka Asinugo