As I watched terrorists attacking Mumbai, India’s business capital, and playing havoc with the city’s famous landmarks on November 26 I immediately remembered Hargeisa, capital of my country Somaliland, where almost a month before suicide bombers caused chaos by driving SUVs laden with explosives to the presidential palace, UNDP headquarters and the office of the Ethiopian Political Representative, killing scores of people and injuring many others. Just like India dubbed November 26 as their 9-11, my people in Somaliland have also dubbed their tragedy on 29-11 as Somaliland’s 9-11.
My first reaction to both tragedies was outrage. It is impossible to stay indifferent to such wanton killing of hundreds of innocent lives and the destruction of a country’s symbols of history and civilisation. The terrorists’ choice of targets also says much about the venomous hate and the blind hostility they have for human innovation, beauty and progress. Targeting the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel and the Trident-Oberoi was to hit India where it hurts most, the country’s sense of pride, just like their comrades did when they attacked New York’s Twin Towers.
Targeting western tourists, religious centres and public transport is also their way of maximising the pain and delivering fear to every world citizen’s doorstep. The reaction to this plague until now has been feeble and scattered on the world stage and almost indifferent at best and shameless schadenfreude at the worst in the main Muslim street.
The latest attacks in Mumbai should signal the end of world silence and inaction. It should stir a sense of outrage and anger in every peace loving human being. Any attempt to search for plausible justifications and motives just flies in one’s face when one finds that India is home to 150 million Muslims, representing the second-largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia's 200 million Muslims and larger than the entire population of Arab Muslims, which numbers about 140 million.
So what kind of Muslim cause do these people claim to fight for when they endanger the lives of fellow Muslims? These terrorists put their fellow Muslims on the defensive where they must try and clear their collective name and that of their religion.
It is time the Muslim world shows outrage and anger and takes collective action to name and shame terrorist gangs and whoever feeds, shelters and provides them with ammunition and training.
It is not possible that these people spring up from nowhere to cause havoc and then vanish into thin air. The bitter truth is that they live and thrive in places and countries well known to the world. It is in fact these countries that have to be taken to task. What is demanded is a unified world action to pinpoint and specify with precision where the terrorists take shelter and sleep and then draw a common strategy to take them out.
It also necessary that victim countries should not rush to deflect attention by impulsive finger pointing before exhausting all venues of investigation and laying their hands on hard facts. The latest actions in Mumbai, India’s throbbing heart of commerce and culture, and Somaliland, that peaceful oasis in the burning Horn of Africa, have proven that the era of “Not in My Backyard” mentality should come to an end. The terrorists have shown beyond doubt that they have no respect for any backyard whatsoever and that the whole world is their oyster. It is just a matter of time before they decide it is your turn to burn.
This is not the time for the squeamish and feeble hearted, it is indeed time for heroes and bold men and women to shoulder their responsibilities to act before the evil hits their backyards.
It is specially time for Muslims to take stock of the situation, recognise the long term effect that the action of such criminal individuals could have on their image, their religion and the future of their children to live and prosper as respected citizens in a globalised world. It is time to say enough is enough and take a serious look at what is taking place in our homes, our schools, our mosques and our charity organisations.
A good place to start is what the Muslim clerics in Mumbai did when they refused the bodies of the gunmen who caused the Mumbai’s tragedy to be buried in their graveyard. This is a laudable move and an outright rejection of anyone committing such crimes in the name of Islam. It is the duty of Muslim scholars all over the world to follow suit.
It is baffling how some of our mass media still give grand titles such as Sheikh and martyr to leaders of terrorist groups. It is equally erroneous to just dismiss these people as lunatics, delinquents, Muslims who have lost their way or misguided individuals. Looking at the gravity of the crimes these people commit and the meticulously calculated methodology in which they execute their operations, they have proven beyond doubt that they are determined and highly focused professional criminals who are in full possession of their mental capacity and are fully responsible for their actions. To call them anything other than criminal is not only misleading but amounts to an inadvertent approval of their actions.
What benefit does it do to see Islamic scholars accusing these people of hijacking Islam and repeating ad nauseam that Islam is innocent of their actions when non-Muslims see these criminals chanting Allahu Akbar and quoting koranic verses and the Prophet’s sayings in justifying their crimes?
What is demanded of enlightened Islamic scholars is to come out of their hiding and show courage in rescuing Islam from becoming the doctrine of terrorism. It is their duty to declare these cold blooded criminals as renegades and emphasise to worshippers in mosques and through the mass media that there is no virgins in paradise waiting for these criminals in the after world but only hellfire.
We need them to condemn vehemently and unequivocally any crime committed by such satanic companions against any country, race or religion anywhere in the world.