Who are the terrorists?

qqqqqqqFor long, Muslims have always protested against the use of “Islamic” in characterising the murderous Boko Haram group because they do not represent Islam. However, despite the denunciation of the group and condemnation of its agenda by Muslim leaders, there is an inexplicable obsession of harassing the majority of peace-loving Muslims with the obnoxious activities of a fringe minority.

With the recent revelation that Christian religious leaders engage in gun-running, arm deviant youths and incite impressionistic minds to launch attacks on Muslim communities while blaming Muslims at the same time, the situation is clearer. What is disappointing is that some uninformed or mischievous people especially in media circles still utter such things as “Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram”, an anachronism that should be totally rejected.

In other words, a terrorist is a terrorist, pure and simple. As the facts of the matter are coming unmistakably to the public glare, it is better terrorism by Muslims and Christians is condemned all together without any religious affiliation.

The reports of aircraft dropping ammunition and food supplies on insurgents given by Emirs and locals in the North East have now become meaningful. Regardless of unsuccessful attempts to hide behind a finger, the cash-for-arms-in-a-private-jet scandal linked to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria has demonstrated that terrorism in Nigeria goes beyond the dimensions and scope of what even our leaders are ready to admit.

It would therefore smack of aberration for any self-respecting Government or media to continue to malign the entirety of a religious group with terrorism. Those who tag Muslims as terrorists are enemies of humanity. This is because as Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”. These atrocities, including torture that Amnesty International says is of industrial scale in our country, are still going on with our collective humanity being diminished. It is high time killings and torture stopped by stopping the identified sponsors of terror, not shielding them from law and justice.

A German scholar was asked about terrorism and Islam. He began his response through a series of questions: Who started the First World War? Not Muslims. Who started the Second World War? Not Muslims. Who killed about 20 million aborigines in Australia? Not Muslims. Who dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not Muslims. Who killed more than 100 million Indians in North America? Not Muslims. Who killed more than 50 million Indians in South America? Not Muslims. Who took about 180 million African peoples as slaves and 88% of them died and were thrown into the Atlantic Ocean? Not Muslims.

“First of all”, he further submitted, “you have to define terrorism properly. If a non-Muslim does something bad, it is a crime. If a Muslim commits the same, he is a terrorist. So first remove this double standard and then come to the point”.

It is trite that since the collapse of the defunct USSR, the need for a new enemy to justify big defence budgets and provide market for the lucrative and tightly controlled arms production industry had arisen. Islam, which incidentally is the fastest growing religion in the world, happens to be the target of this war and no effort would be sparred to tarnish its image as well as blackmail and punish its adherents. But this is not right.

Despite all the lies we are being made to believe, the percentage of Muslim terrorists in the world is marginal. Last year, the Loon Watch of Princeton University published a chart, a summary of its study compiled from the FBI database, which shows that the percentage of possible terrorist attacks masterminded by Muslims between 1980 and 2005 was minimal. The study showed that there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the US than Islamic.

The report revealed the patterns of terrorism among various groups as follows: Latino, 42%; Extremist Left Wing Groups, 24%; Jewish extremists, 7%; Islamist extremists 6%; Communists 5% and others, 16%. The implication of the reports is that Muslims are not “more terrorist” than the others though the tag of terrorism appears to have been reserved for Muslims only.

If the statistics of the CIA and Pew Research Centre are anything to go by, the monstrosity called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has 31, 500 fighters/ terrorists. The population of the world in 2013 was estimated to be 7.2 billion out of which 1.6 billion are Muslims. This means that 23% of the world’s population are Muslim. Put differently, approximately one out of every four persons in the world is a Muslim.

Based on the given figures, the percentage of ISIS in the world Muslim population is 0.001969%, far less than 1%. If other fringe groups like Al-Qaeda, Al Shabaab and the original Boko Haram are added, hardly would the figures still add up to 1%. This shows that it is irrational and wicked to blame more than 99% of people for the crime of less than 1%.

The essential thing is to appreciate that religions should be absolved of the acts of terrorists since they only use the name. As President Barack Obama said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly two days ago, “All religions have been attacked from within at some point and all people of faith have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of all religion: do unto thy neighbor as you would have done to you.”

In that sense, terrorists are not Muslims; terrorists are terrorists and they should bear their fathers’ names. The short but crucial message of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, this Sunday on the occasion of the International Day of Peace is apt and worth re-sharing and this column urges the identified sponsors of terror to allow Nigeria to “breathe the air of peace”:

“We ask combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.

“Armed conflict causes untold grief to families, communities and entire countries.

“Too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of the warmongers and terrorists.

“Let us stand with them in solidarity.

“Peace and security are essential foundations for social progress and sustainable development.

“That is why three decades ago, the United Nations affirmed the right of peoples to peace.

“Throughout the coming year, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

“Our organization is founded on the pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

“We have made much progress.

“But much remains to be done.

“We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict.

“Peace is a long road that we must travel together – step by step, beginning today.

“Let us all observe a minute silence, at noon.

“Let us all reflect on peace – and what it means for our human family.

“Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so that it may grow and blossom.”