Terror and the Text
Terror is first read to the minds; limbs only follow.
INKSIGHT BY MEHMOOD UR RASHID
Oslo, the capital of Norway, was more identified with the Mid East Peace process till yesterday. It became a permanent part of the discourse about Mid East ever since world powers, primarily US, worked hard to earn some calm in the otherwise turbulent Arabia. Though peace didn't happen to the region, Oslo happened to the Peace process as an enduring company. That was the peace of the powerful and the usurper and failure was the only thing that could come out of it. But on the 22 July, last week, Oslo hogged the headlines for twin acts of terror. From an effort at unreal peace to an act of real terror Oslo has traversed a great distance; so has the world. Certain easy, and expedient, conclusions are coming under strain.
First a car bomb exploded outside the office of the Prime Minister of the country. The shock waves swept the entire world and the TV coverage of the explosion site served as a grim reminder of the World Trade Center blast, that occurred many years back. Or is this Norway's 9/11? Comparisons were made with the earlier acts of terror and the suspects were the same old lunatic fringe from the Muslim world. In the background the music comprised the sounds that emanated from al-Qaeda, just after Osama was killed. So al-Qaeda has struck again and the warnings have come true. That was what seized the minds minutes after the blast.
While the media was following the blast and the entire world was condemning the attack, none had any idea of what was to follow. The post 9/11 talk on terror was being rehearsed and the media was breathlessly waiting for some jihadist outfit to claim responsibility. Who would it be to announce post-Osama war on West! Ayman Zaweri! Or may be some masked man with an AK 47 as the necessary part of the frame copying Osama!
But Norway was up for the real shock. And so was the world. Less than two hours after the blast occurred, there was a massacre. At a camp organized by the youth organization (AUF) of the Norwegian Labour Party (AP) on the island of Utoya a gunman disguised as a policeman indiscriminately opened fire at the campers killing almost a hundred people. It was no cousin of Ajmal Kasab, though it chillingly reminded of Mumbai 26/11. The man had no ties of kinship or comradeship with any of the places or names that are effortlessly read out on all such ghastly occasion. Yeman, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan – no country had anything to do with the culprit by way of decent or training. Aimal Kansi, Ramzi Yousuf, or Muhammad Atta – the man knew none. Anders Behring Breivik – Europe's own 32 year old son. There is nothing Muslim about him. Breivik was a pointedly 'blond Norwegian' as put by Joost Lagendijk in Today's Zaman.
That means one can be a terrorist without being a Muslim. That means 'all terrorists are Muslims', is not entirely correct. That means the problem of terror is not plainly Muslim or Islam. But why are we asking these questions and disturbing the accepted set of conclusions that fits so well in the scheme of things. May be Anders Behring Breivik was a 'lone lunatic'.
But when the details came in the lunatic was far from being lone. He was pursuing a mission fed into him through a text. What turned him into a malevolent conservative, pushed him to militant far-right and drove him mad with Islamophobia; first there was a word.
An online, more than 1500 page manifesto 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence, was posted exactly on the same day when almost hundred people were mowed down by Breivik. The manifesto is about two things – Christian, and Europe. The blond Norwegian found the two threatened by Islam and Muslim. His way of raising the alarm led him to this dastardly act. He wanted to shake his fellow country men. What a nihilistic way to shake his people up.
The Manifesto is replete with the references from the bloggers and writers who have been consistently spreading hate against Islam and Muslims. Those books and blogs were bound to make an effect. When anger and hate are the driving forces only blood can spill. This is true of any people.
In case of Muslims, we have seen how an inadequate knowledge of the Western concepts and Western History led to dangerously faulty interpretation of things. And how that text went on to draw its own bloody lines. In India too we are now witnessing how terror is produced from the writings and speeches of far-right. When Pakistan only represents threat and Islam is pointedly seen as an enemy, where do you take that hatred which is generated in the process; Malegoan, Samjhuta!
In Kashmir, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other Muslim countries, this text was produced decades back. But finally its dread became known only when it wed to a condition produced by the confederation of factors. Now it has become so entrenched that there hardly seems to be an exit. The problem is not with Islam or Muslims. It is with the way Islam and Muslims were fed into a text. The text full of anxieties, emotions and exclusions. Before the similar text, produced in Europe and India, merges into some overwhelming condition, it needs to be unraveled.
Now a very serious question. The question of who is who in this world of plurality and change. There are comely ways of approaching this question. And then it demands rigour of mind. When this question is raised in a condition of contest, drenched in anxieties and imaginary threats, it gives birth to the likes of Anders Behring Breivik.
And how many Breiviks we have around us; in Kashmir. That is where the worry stares into the face. Menacingly.
(Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 27 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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