Per square kilometre of its small land surface, Great Britain has far more residential ?guest? terrorists and unsavoury characters than any nation in the world. Far from being a source of concern, the host country has viewed their presence on its soil with equanimity, smugly confident that men sought by police in other countries would fulfill their subversive agendas from British territory without pointing their guns inwards.
If that confidence was shaken by 9/11 in New York, Prime Minister Tony Blair'sadministration certainly did not let it show. There was virtually no crackdown on the growing lunatic elements in the country, and despite the fact that native citizens were increasingly being targetted by criminal elements professing a distinct affiliation, all crime was covered up under the generic label of ?Asian?.
Now, the pigeons have come home to roost. Deeply embarrassed before the world community at the opening of the prestigious G-8+ India+ China summit in Scotland, Mr. Tony Blair has called the July 5, 2005 serial blasts in London an attack upon the civilised world. He has expressed determination to defeat the terrorists? designs, and to their credit, British emergency services and ordinary citizens have shown exemplary ability to cope with the first serious attack on their homeland since the Second World War.
But sadly for Mr Blair, US President George Bush, his foremost ally, in whose support he even staked his political career, used the occasion to reiterate commitment to faulty policies in Iraq. This is hardly conducive to improving domestic security in Britain, and unless one has seriously underestimated the character of Islamic fundamentalists who have ensconced themselves there over decades, more attacks are on the cards. Scotland Yard will certainly go after the men involved in Thursday'sblasts; reportedly a minimum of ten to twelve persons were involved in planting the devices. The coordinated nature of the explosions also gives credence to the claim that an Al-Qaeda group was behind the attacks.
The presence of Al-Qaeda raises the question of the mindset behind the attacks, and the international community would do well to stop evading this issue. Although no country has suffered as constantly and severely as India, the network of terror has now embraced America, Britain, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Spain. It is being said that Denmark and Italy are the next targets, and we can trust the terrorists to fulfill this grim promise. The fact that Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of the rigid Wahabi Islam that is intimately linked with Al-Qaeda and international Islamic extremism, has itself suffered terrorist violence, as have Saudi-Pakistan allies like America and Britain, is evidence that Islamic fundamentalism is not a genie that can be bottled at will.
It is time, therefore, to call a spade a spade. A beginning must be made with the self-definitions of those perpetrating these acts of barbarism: if the terrorists say they are motivated by faith and are acting in its defence, it is not for us to proclaim that terrorists have no religion. They do. This religious affiliation is recognised within the wider community; within hours of the explosions, UK Muslims were given a call to stay indoors to avoid a possible backlash from the citizenry.
No doubt Mr Blair'sgovernment will take steps to contain any possible violence against minorities. But perhaps, it is time the international community dispassionately examined why a growing network of terror across the globe links back to one'sfaith. Can national and international laws governing freedom of religion declare that religious concepts that preach intolerance towards other faiths and their adherents are illegal? Can Islamic seminaries be persuaded to omit the concepts of Jehad and Ghazi while teaching the Quran to youngsters? Can churches be forbidden from calling other belief systems ?false??
In India, secularists have become addicted to their pretty speeches, without regard for reality or the sufferings of those for whom they have little empathy (read the Hindu community). Those who watched the television news on Tuesday when the Ram Janmabhoomi was attacked, and again on Thursday when London was jolted, could not but be struck by the utter indifference of all news anchors towards the highest seat of Hindu reverence as opposed to their brimming concern for the former colonial State.
Many channels prepared special clips on the Twin Towers tragedy in New York, but no one thought that this might be the time to ask why the world adopted different yardsticks when 100 pilgrims were gunned down in a single attack on the Amarnath yatra some years ago, why the Raghunath temple, Akshardham, and the Ram Janmabhoomi were assaulted, why the victims of the Godhra inferno are largely unrecognised, not to mention the almost daily aggravations against citizens in Jammu & Kashmir. There could never be a more eloquent expose of the denationalisation of the Indian media.
Friday mornings? newspapers were hardly any better, primly reiterating their well-known pieties. The fact of the matter, however, is that the so-called communal divide exists in the minds that conceive and execute acts of violence towards others on the ground that they belong to a different faith; it exists in minds that acquiesce in these acts of barbarism and defend them on weak moral and intellectual grounds; and it exists above all, in minds that work to ensure that there is no fallout for the aggressors. To accuse victims of comm-unalising a situation not created by them is disingenuous and dishonest; it is also now subject to diminishing returns. Were this not so, Congress president Sonia Gandhi would not have modified her statement on the Ayodhya attack while visiting Rai Bareilly on Thursday, in order to sound more sympathetic to the Hindu community. ?By SJ