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Terrorists are human too

  • Published at 05:23 pm May 22nd, 2018
  • Last updated at 05:46 pm May 23rd, 2018

Solutions for terrorism, be it in Bangladesh or elsewhere in the world, always rely on viewing the perpetrators as elements who do not have any right to exist within society.

To borrow an oft-used term from academic rhetoric, this process serves to merely “otherize” the terrorists, thereby nullifying the existence of any sort of space by which governments and societies can effectively “treat” terrorism.

What inevitably ends up happening is a brute-force approach which attempts to eliminate terrorists, by jailing them, killing them, incarcerating them, subsequently removing them from society altogether, and lulling us into a false sense of achievement where we feel that we have succeeded in quashing another element of terrorism.

But terrorism is more than the terrorists.

It is a veritable culture that is reacting against oppression -- whether we choose to see it as oppression is a different matter. Terrorism, and religious terrorism particularly, has never been merely about the religion, but about various political factors around the world which serve to highlight a narrative which continues to see them as villains in an era which has no room for them. 

Thousands of Muslims die somewhere in Syria, and the Muslim world watches as dominant powers, such as the United States, villainize their fellow “brothers and sisters,” and they feel an intense rage. And this rage, if we continue to push back with equal force, is only heightened, for the feeling of oppression is far more powerful than what most governments or societies oftentimes realize.

That's why both parties continue to kill each other, see each other as just that, “others”, others who are enemies, who do not, most importantly, understand. It is this very lack of understanding which leads to the continuation of contrary rhetoric -- it eliminates any room for dialogue. 

Once an individual is given history, as we all too often remove from terrorists, we can immediately understand them, for we understand where they are coming from. We understand the multiple factors which led them to hate an entire people, which led to them to resort to violence.

There are also issues of the frustration that is bred growing up as a young man in the times in which we find ourselves. The Holey Artisan attack showed us that poverty and a lack of education are not enough to turn a young man into a force of death.

There are millions of such youths who struggle to find an identity, who seek purpose, and unfortunately, they are not able to find it except at the end of the barrel of a gun. They feel dehumanized by the various mainstream narratives which litter their TV screens and their social media accounts. 

At the end of the day, to find any sort of solution for the continuation of terrorism, we must look at the history, and serve to change it. We must create a world which allows a person to be himself or herself, and instead of pushing them down with force into the ground, teaches him or her ways to co-exist. 

It is only by comprehending our enemies, and turning them into fellow human beings, can we move forward. 

SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul

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