Terrorism – 5: What’s Your Religion?

Here we are at the beginning of life beyond Mumbai. We have expressed our feelings, described the situation, analyzed the problem, prescribed a response, and articulated a vision for the future.

We have come out of this gut-wrenching process changed.

A fundamental truth has dawned upon us. Today, in this twenty-first century, in this global village, it makes little sense to be Hindu or Muslim, Sikh or Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant, Black or White. What matters only is whether you are for terrorism or against terrorism. If we make a false choice here, Hindus and Muslims along with all the others would go up in a ball of smoke.

There are attributes of individuals that unite them in a common humanity and those that divide them into quarreling tribes. Terrorists can strike because we are divided; terrorists will thrive if we are divided yet again.

There is a personal religion and a political religion. And the political religion will determine if we will have the peace to find sustenance from our personal religion. Today, I am a non-terrorist first and whatever else second. And I am ready to hold hands with anyone else who is a non-terrorist, no matter what the color or creed or language or ethnicity or nationality of that person, to make sure there is a future where we can live without fear and apprehension.

Is there another way forward?

Non-terrorists of the world, unite. Your lives are at stake and time is running out.

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  • Arka
    Posted at 03:59h, 08 December Reply

    Hey I think you are absolutely correct! However the problem with your solution is that people will rarely come together for goood causes like this. The only time we stand united is soon after a terrorist attack. Then as the days go by, we tend to forget and our anger subsides. The politicians never face the axe in India. This is the first time they were asked to resign after the Mumbai terror attacks. We need to look at terrorism with a view other than religion. By now we should have learned that terrorists have no religion. As in what happened in the CST, the terrorists killed people from every religion showing us clearly that whatever they are doing its not for the Lord. I have a community on Facebook called Save India!, which is based on improving the political structure in order to combat terrorism, and I urge anyone interested to join it. I am looking for regular commited members to join my group. Anyway, I would like to round this up by saying the same thing that you mentioned, the only way to fight terrorism is to stand united in the face of terror.

  • Anil Kala
    Posted at 08:39h, 08 December Reply

    This us and them dichotomy is bad as the culprits are a handful ideologues brain washing a malleable multitude. Some where repugnant word ‘extermination’ was used in the context of Taliban. Taliban is also the act of a handful fanatics converting gullibles into zombies. They must have something incredibly attractive to sell that makes a massive multitude ready to turn into monsters.

    And then there are also more important things beyond religions and beyond terrorism. Good governance falls a lot more higher in priority than fighting terrorism due to the fact that bad governance kills a lot more innocent people due to starvation, malnutrition, lack of medical assistance and means to livelihood.

    Fight terrorism by all means but never lose focus on fight to make the leaders accountable. More enabling laws like the landmark Right To Information Act (RTI) etc should be conceptualized, visualised and campaigned for implementation.

    Yes fight terrorism.

  • Jimmy
    Posted at 20:56h, 05 February Reply

    You all have expressed noble thoughts. But, the fact of the matter is that greed, lust, and power creates a mess regardless what subject you are dealing with. System and policies should be based on principles that discourage these attributes. Look what is happening with Financial market due to greed? Look what Bush did with the power bestowed on him?
    Muslims do not drink liquor cause it causes “Nasha”. This Nasha is nothing compared to to the Nasha of having power, or being famous or being rich.
    I will suggest, more than the good governance, we should voice for eliminating the bad governance.

    Still, we must fight terrorism.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 14:09h, 06 February Reply

    Jimmy, Your suggestion for raising a voice to eliminate bad governance coincides with our latest Ghalib post which has the same message:


    This is of great importance and public activism around issues of bad governance has to be high on the agenda. Readers can suggest specific issues around which campaigns should be mobilized.

    You are right regarding the dangers of power. The best analysis of this phenomenon is the book The Lucifer Project by Professor Phil Zimbardo of Stanford University. His Stanford project has become famous for illustrating what happens when even very normal people are given power over others. Recently he has completed a detailed analysis of Abu Gharaib which is included in the book.

  • aahang
    Posted at 12:20h, 14 May Reply

    Why does someone become a terrorist? I am sure those men too have a survival instinct that place life over death what ever way they look at it.
    I have pondered over the matter and come to the conclusion that one is gullible to the extent of your desperation.
    When you have a house ,a car,a family and a good life you want status quo but on the other side if you have nothing to loose and live for ,any cult that gives you a sense of identity and belonging tempts.
    In many cases it is purely money that drives the decision and religion is only used as a sedative that helps these young people not to question what they are going to do.
    Religion or no religion I cannot comprehend that someone would kill innocent people,women,children unless he is a psycho.
    Even if you feel victimised your sense of logic will tell you that there is no point killing yourself and others when the actual tormentor lives freely.
    The mind of a terrorist is Complex and confused and hence not easily comprehensible.It has nothing to do with religion.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 00:14h, 15 May

      Aahang, It is possible to argue against a number of your points:

      1. It is not necessary that every human being have a survival instinct that places life over death. It is conceivable to have a sacrificial instinct that places death over life.
      2. Terrorism is not related to poverty. All the 9/11 terrorists had houses, cars, and a good life.
      3. We cannot assume that terrorists are confused. In fact they can be seen as very focused on a single objective.

  • Rajnish
    Posted at 06:37h, 15 May Reply

    1.With my Limited knowledge of English and Psychology,an instinct is something that you are born with,not something that you are taught or convinced about.Therefore anyone “sacrificing”life for religion cannot be classified as an instinct.If we look at creation and the whole idea of darwinism it is about an instinct to survive and procreate.
    2.The view that Poverty and terrorism are linked is not mine but is being debated at all levels.Prof Russell Ackoff of Wharton Business school is an authority on the subject.You can read about his research here:
    There are arguments bot for and against.
    As far as 9/11 is concerned I would request you to check your facts.All the terrorists were known Jihadis and had nothing like house,car or family.They had been under Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaida for a long time and had carried out other smaller acts before for him.
    In the recent attack on Mumbai we have seen that all terrorists were from extremely poor backgrounds and had even been indulging in petty thefts and robberies before joining the group where they were lured in purely for the sake of money.Whatever I am saying is well documented and published and a little bit of browing will put the facts in front of you.
    3.Again several movies have been made and books have been written on the subject of a terrorist being confused.While at the surface they may look like being focussed at a deeper level they are looking for a lot of answers.Movies like Black and white ( starring Anil Kapoor and Directed by Subhash Ghai)highlight this conflict beautifully.
    Pls note that the idea of a good debate is not to win an argument but to put forth facts and a different point of view.
    As Neitzsche say” if everyone agrees then no one is thinking”.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:13h, 15 May

      Rajnish, I thought was engaging in an argument by presenting a different point of view but I guess it did not come across that way to you. In any case:

      1. You are right about the meaning of instinct. It seems some people can overcome that instinct and develop a resolve for sacrifice which can be for a cause that can either be lauded or condemned by society. The sacrificer has to be convinced that it is for a noble cause. We know that this is possible.
      2. My point on poverty was that there is no one-to-one relationship – terrorists can be poor or rich. If you look up Atta Mohammed on Wikipedia you will get the backgrounds of all the 9/11 terrorists. You can then reach your own conclusion.
      3. On being confused or focused this can become a semantic discussion. Who in this world is not looking for a lot of answers? We can’t just assume that because someone is a terrorist he/she must be confused. These are pre-meditated crimes that require a lot of focus, concentration and conviction. One can argue that only someone who has no doubts (or who has had the doubts removed) about the rightness of his/her cause can commit an act like this. This belief itself can be misplaced but that is a different issue and calls for a value judgment. Once again, a one-to-one relationship cannot be presumed – a terrorist may or may not be confused depending on how we define confusion.

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