Terrorism, a manifestation of disenfranchisement?

Terrorism, a manifestation of disenfranchisement?

The recent arms haul in Bhola in southern Bangladesh (news.bbc.co.uk) has revealed a disturbing link to a charity based in the United Kingdom . It turns out that the charity in question whose website shows pictures of medical help being handed out to poor Bangladeshi villagers is run by a highly educated Briton, one Dr. Faisal Mostafa, who has had more than one encounter with the British authorities on terrorism related allegations. I write not to blame the British government nor their Bangladeshi counterparts for their failures to stop militancy being spread under the guise of a charity but to remind them that they must also allocate resources to get to the root causes of the problem.

This type of terrorism has become a global menace that manifests itself well in poverty stricken places – with weak governments and corrupt and highly politicized institutions that are in place to safeguard against this very type of abuses – such as Bangladesh . It’s hard to imagine that a charity involved in constructing houses and schools for the poor would entangle itself with this kind of maniacal militancy. Given Dr. Mostafa’s record, the allegations against him cannot be dismissed as mere exaggerations or knee-jerk reactions of racist bigots – who by the way are just as big a global menace. It’s a shame that the actions of a few always give a bad name to the many – whether they be charities or well meaning peaceful individuals.

Faisal Mostafa is not the first Briton from a minority ethnic group to be associated with subversive activities. The London bombings in July 2005 followed shortly by attacks at Glasgow airport in June 2007 speak of a greater problem that is brewing in the British and other well developed western societies. I suspect these despicable acts of hatred by a small group of educated ethnic minority youth – many of whom are second generation citizens of an older immigrant population – stems from their inability to integrate with the main stream “host” society. As a Bangladeshi who has grown up in various parts of the world, I have often noted with a degree of worry how the diasporas keep themselves to themselves. Many of the children who were born outside Bangladesh do not feel the same connection with their so-called “homeland” which their parents want them to and yet they feel pressure from the same parents not to adopt the values of the society they have chosen to live in. Thus begins a vicious unhealthy cycle of confusion, rejection and question about identity.

The blame does not lie with the first generation immigrant parents alone – the governments of the host countries must share some responsibility in allowing this alienation of their own second generation citizens. Today’s Britain , like many western countries, is a multi-cultural society. Its greatest ally, the United States for instance has a president who is the embodiment of a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-religious moderate hard-working middle-class global community. Western governments must recognize that it is in their interest to promote greater understanding between ethnic communities and not let extremists in the world (be they Jews, Christians, Muslims or Hindus) sabotage the livelihoods of the vast majority of moderates around the globe. It is in their interest to ensure that no portion of its population is trapped by the kind of unhealthy cycles of rejection, identity crisis and confusion.

Hopefully we have seen the last of the war-mongering religious zealots like Tony Blair and George Bush who have destroyed an atmosphere of greater co-operation between peoples of the world by injecting fear and hatred into our everyday lives. Fortunately, the likes of Barack Hussein Obama will be able to undo some of that damage by replacing fear with mutual respect and understanding so we can all get back to living like humans instead of wolves and chickens.

We, the global citizens – whether Bangladeshis, Britons, Americans or Irish for that matter – must do more to figure out the root causes of the disenfranchisement and press our governments to tackle them head-on before we all become hostage to fear and hatred. The world will be a happier, safer and more productive place to sustain the human race.

Shabbir A. Bashar, PhD
Vancouver , USA

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