We must rise to their challenge

By Emeka Asinugo

In recent times, many European countries have been challenged by a spate of violent actions perpetrated by some blood-thirsty hounds that have been mistakenly called human beings. Even as we speak, they continue with their nefarious mission. Understandably, their violence has been classified as acts of terrorism. Yet, there is something about them that everyone seems to miss.
When these hoodlums throw their bombs into huge crowds of people and when they run their vans into a crowd of revellers or begin to stab people indiscriminately in densely populated areas of the city, they do not care if their victims are Christians or Muslims, persons of any other faith or of no faith at-all. All they want to do is to kill.
The circumstances raise very important questions. Why, for instance, do they not care whom they kill? If they feel that government has failed them as some claim is the fundamental reason for this thirst for bloodletting, why don’t they discuss their problems with their parliamentary representatives and together find a solution to them? Why have they bluntly refused to be civil and law abiding? Why do these armed robbers cherish all the tension they create, which tends to culminate in racial hatred and uncertainty in European societies?
Not long ago, the world bore witness to the social and political upheavals that engulfed the entire Nation of Islam, dubbed the Arab Awakening. It was dubbed the Arab Awakening but since those events happened which brought down and replaced so many governments during the early part of this decade, how many of those state actors have woken up from their slumber?
It is doubtful if any of them has, because, seven years after the overthrow of those governments which were alleged to be autocratic, one would have thought that these Arab countries would have begun to relish in the dividends of democracy and long overdue political and economic reforms. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, war and economic uncertainty have become the hallmark of the new “governments of the people” and the people themselves have continued to suffer, even more than they did in the days of the autocratic governments they so eagerly helped to ouster from public office. That is a lesson we all have to learn.
If there is anything that the so-called Arab Awakening has achieved in these seven years, it is the fact that it set the stage for an upsurge in violent activities in many European countries.
A catalogue of the most recent atrocities perpetrated by terrorists in Europe alone will shock anybody. We still vividly remember some of their curious and dastardly actions. Most of us still remember how on 7 January 2015, two masked gunmen carried out a bloody terror attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris. The two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi killed 12 people during lunch time at the newspaper offices in the French capital. A policewoman was killed the following day. And on 9 January, another terrorist killed four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.
In series of chilling attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, 130 victims were killed and hundreds of others injured. It was said to be the most deadly assault on French soil since the Second World War. A suicide bombing at the Stade de France stadium was followed by more explosions and shootings at popular bars and restaurants in Paris. Three gunmen also opened fire in Bataclan Concert Hall and killed spectators who were watching the Eagles of Death Metal perform.
On 22 March 2016, the bombing in Brussels killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 others in a day of terror. There were two suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and another bombing at a Metro station in the Belgium capital.
On 14 July 12016, a terrorist in a lorry mowed down revellers who had just finished watching a firework display to mark Bastille Day in France. The horrible rampage killed 84 people and injured hundreds of others on the promenade in the seaside town of Nice. The attacker Mohamed Bouhlel, a 41-year-old Tunisian-born French citizen was shot dead by security men.
On Tuesday, 26 July 2016, armed men stormed into a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in Northern France, during mass and slit the throat of an elderly priest, Father Jacques Hamel, and took four other people hostage. Police shot the attackers dead. The Islamic State, ISIS, claimed responsibility.
On 26 July 2016 a doctor died after being shot in a Berlin hospital during the fifth horror attack in Germany in just over a week. The string of violent attacks started when an axe man hacked passengers on a train in Wurzburg on Monday 18 July. On Friday, 22 July, a young Iranian-German gunman went on a deadly rampage in Munich after being inspired by far-right killer Anders Breivik.
In two separate attacks on Sunday, 24 July, a man blew himself up in Ansbach and a man killed a pregnant woman during a machete attack in a Reutlingen Louvre knife attack.
On 19 December 2016, attacker Anis Amri drove a lorry into a packed Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring more than 60.
On 3 February 2017, a knifeman was shot while trying to attack a group of soldiers guarding the Louvre in Paris. The attacker reportedly cried ‘Allah Akbar’ and drew a machete on the soldiers after being told he could not enter the Louvre Carrousel shopping centre with two backpacks.
On 22 March 2017, London attacker Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing two men and two women and injuring many others. The knifeman crashed his car into the railings outside Parliament, got out and ran into New Palace Yard where he stabbed a brave police officer to death. Masood was shot dead by armed police.
On 7April 2017, four people were killed and at least fifteen injured when a man drove a truck down a busy shopping street. Rakhmat Akilov, a failed asylum seeker from Uzbekistan, was arrested and charged in connection with the attack. The 39-year-old was said to have admitted being a member of ISIS and had told police investigators that he had achieved “what he set out to do”.
On 20 April 2017, a policeman was killed on the Champs Elysees in Paris in what was treated as a terror-related attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing which came just days before the French presidential election. The gunman, Karim Cheurfi, was a 39-year old who allegedly served 15 years in prison for three attempted murders. He was shot dead at the scene.
On 22 May 2017, the Manchester terror attacker killed at least 22 people and injured 59 others at an Arianna Grande concert at Manchester Arena. A lone suicide bomber detonated explosives among teenage fans leaving the concert at 10.33pm.
And on 2 June 2017, the London Bridge terror attack in London killed at least seven people and injured 58 others while in nearby Borough Market on that same Saturday, three knifemen were shot dead by police after mowing down pedestrians on the bridge and going on a killing spree at pubs and restaurants at 10pm. And the list could go on and on.
But we must not make any mistakes as to the real motifs behind these seemingly interminable spates of violent actions. These violent actions, mostly classified as acts of terrorism, have absolutely nothing to do with religion, either Christianity or Islamism or any other religion for that matter. It has to do purely with armed robbery, brigandry and a sickening desire to re-distribute wealth.
Whether it is Boko Haram in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, ISIS in Syria or isolated cases of terror attacks in Europe, they all share one fact in common: to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty as a stepping stone toward a re-distribution of the wealth of communities and countries they consider as wealthy.

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