Terror: Are we inadvertedly helping fear prevail?

As two possible new terror incidents unfolded in London tonight, it appears we need to honestly look at the role we can and should play to not further the purposes of the terrorists.

In just a few weeks the world has seen multiple attacks in the UK,  Egypt, twin attacks in Iraq (that saw over 52 people die), and Kabul (were close to 90 people died) and we can’t do much more than shake our heads and blame someone, either a religion, or a group or governments.

It would appear as if this Ramadan will be the perfect excuse for ISIL to unravel all their revolting approach to how the world should work in their eyes in a period that is most sacred to the religion they are allegedly adhering to.

The terrorist group has claimed that as countries have tightened border controls around the world and made it harder for its militants to travel to and from the so-called “caliphate” in Syria, they have modified their strategy, encouraging supporters to carry out strikes in their countries of residence.

Any action of “terror” oriented by a political agenda needs an audience to cause a subsequent reaction, and particularly nowadays, as new technologies have exponentially facilitated the production of propaganda, which serves, both, the purpose of encouraging supporters as well as causing disgust on the majority of the population and a general environment of fear.

Mass media coverage has potentially played a part in the latter.

Ironically, historians refer to “The Reign of Terror” as a period during the French Revolution to try to vilify the actions of opposers of the government, particularly Robespierre.

Robespierre himself said: “Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice,” as a controversial way to attempt to justify violence to dismantle a so-called despotic political regime.

In reality, Robespierre created a new phenomenon. “Terror” then became an official government policy, using violence to achieve a greater political aim. Unlike the “terrorists” of today, the French Revolution was using the machinery of the actual government and basically legalised violence, instead of fighting a regime. As a result, they legally executed over 16,000 people all over France.

Nowadays, whenever a terrorist attack happens we become enraged by the cynical demeanor of terrorist groups claiming proudly that their acts served an actual purpose to further destroy any society different to their “values”, while appearing to not hold any values at all.

However, is that really their aim?

We certainly live in a more divided world ever since the “War on Terror” was promulgated.

We also live in a world where fear prevails. A report by the Pew Research Center  showed that ISIL was viewed as the top threat in eight of 10 European countries surveyed, even more so than climate change or world economic volatility.

However, terrorism is not an East vs West ordeal, at least not mainly, particularly when these groups are primarily causing agony and death in conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. It appears that regardless of them professing a hatred toward Westerners, it is more a civil war (at least in the Middle East, where the most deaths are) than a war against the West.

It is a divisive narrative that does some of the propaganda for the terrorists by diverting attention from their real purposes in the Middle East while convincing its supporters that their actions are a form of “revenge” against the grievances caused to “their people” when they are the perpetrators of the most damage themselves.




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