Kenitra - The recent attacks on Parisian bars, restaurants, and a concert halls that left at least 129 dead and 352 wounded, held the French capital hostage to fear, putting the rest of the world in a mood of panic, and Muslims under a horrible psychological and emotional siege.
Kenitra – The recent attacks on Parisian bars, restaurants, and a concert halls that left at least 129 dead and 352 wounded, held the French capital hostage to fear, putting the rest of the world in a mood of panic, and Muslims under a horrible psychological and emotional siege.
The aftermath of the latest tragedy in Paris will doubtlessly ignite fire and advance a war of rhetoric, revenge, and more bloodshed. Ignorant people are reacting to media coverage by blaming Muslims and Islam and laying the ground for what Pope Francis described as a “piecemeal World War III.”
The words ‘terror’, ‘massacre’, and ‘war’ surfaced in most French newspapers conveying two major messages. First: the attacks on Paris are attacks on Western lifestyle, values, freedom, and spirit of joy. Second: the attacks have led to high tension, expressed by French President Francois Holland’s declaration of state of emergency, a war on an unknown enemy and a state of more confusion.
As much as these deadly and barbarous attacks in Paris raise tension, panic, and a horrible sense of confusion, it should equally raise our moral obligation towards the values and possibilities of co-existence and acceptance. The scenes of carnage in the Bataclan concert venue or in Le Petit Cambodg are not much different from the horrible scenes in Beirut, Baghdad, or Aleppo. These machines of killing strike everywhere. Now, the French are waking up with a sad memory while the rest of the world holds its breath waiting for the next chapter in this endless war. Is this not enough?
The Paris attacks will have a drastic impact on both France’s political development and its sociocultural fabric, and of course on Europe as a whole. These terrorist attacks mark a new episode of violence, a turning point in world geopolitics, and most significantly, a shocking reminder to all of us: we still live in the mood of post-September 11th era. Why?
Myarshal G.S. Hodgson wrote in his book The Venture of Islam Conscience and History in a World Civilization: “The serious reader must be prepared to think in novel ways. To this end, he must be prepared to absorb as readily as possible a whole range of new concepts and terms. Otherwise, he cannot expect to profit seriously by a study of culture; at most he will receive an impression of exotic quaintness, romance, or incongruity which does no justice to the human reality.” Otherwise, we will submit to illusion, prejudice and fall prey to ideology; we would dig deeper in the hole of terror.
The night of Friday, November 13 should remind us all that we cannot expect to move past the tragedy unless we are prepared to see beyond the venues of Paris into a more spacious world, beyond the moment; the present, into history; the history of two civilizations, two cultures, two narratives and of a clash.
Those academically and intellectually concerned with the Arab-Islamic world may be more aware of the growth in the tension, ambiguity, and anxiety the peoples of this world feel. They know of the many unanswered questions Muslims ask: Are we violent? Does Islam teach violence? Do we really hate the West? These questions usually surface mixed with growing feeling of doubt and uncertainty, and more significantly, with opposite inquiries: Why do Americans and Europeans hate us? Isn’t the West ethnocentric and hypocrite? What about Palestine? What explains the tragedies and chaos in the Middle East?
For many Europeans, particularly those who rely on the mainstream media, these questions may seem naive or even arrogant. However, and once we realize that both the tension and the impact of the damage has been brought to the region in the last two decades, we may say in full confidence: these questions are real, legitimate, and reasonable enough to raise attention.
Unfortunately, the confrontations between the Arab-Islamic world and the West will continue to concentrate on the ideas and challenges of identity, culture, and religion. Each side firmly clings to history and builds upon the assumptions of today. Each side will continue to refuse to step beyond their comfort zone.
Now, what matters most is the ability of both the West and the East to advance an alternative path to what has been historically a dark age of killing. We must allow ourselves a possibility to overcome fear and anger. We are all humans.
Be it in Paris, London, Cairo, or Tunisia, these acts of terror and this rhetoric of hatred and negativity won’t change. This is an inevitable truth. French Philosopher Mattieu Ricard says we must acknowledge this “if we wish to find a way to end this cycle of bloodshed.”
Ricard says, “Like the sun that shines equally over both the good and the bad, over a magnificent landscape as well as over a pile of trash, impartiality extends to all beings without distinction. When compassion thus conceived is directed at a person who is causing great harm to others, it does not consist of tolerating, or encouraging by inaction, his hatred and his harmful actions, but in regarding that person as gravely ill or stricken with madness, and wishing that he be freed from the ignorance and hostility that are in him…. In other words, it is not a matter of contemplating harmful actions with equanimity, even indifference, but of understanding that it is possible to eradicate their causes the way one can eliminate the causes of an illness.”
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