After seeing the title you must be saying to yourself, “Here we have it, another opinion on how radical Islam needs to be tackled! The preaching never ends.” And to an extent you might be right. I’m particularly focusing on Islamic radicals because everybody is talking about them. Right now, in the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks, most of the violence seems to be effervescing from radical Islam. The Irish terrorists aren’t doing much. The Tamil Tigers have been reined in. Khalistan is a balloon that has lost its air. It’s only the Islamic terrorists that are wrecking havoc all over the world so naturally, when we talk about radicalism, Islamic terrorists are the first ones who come to your mind.
Overtly secular people and the intellectual types always talk about having a dialogue with the people being radicalised (even the ones who have already been radicalised). Having a dialogue with people is always a good idea. In fact, when it comes to making a choice between having an armed fight and having a dialogue, the civilised world should always opt for having a dialogue. Nobody in his or her sane mind disagrees.
But do the radicals want to have a dialogue?
Being a radical in itself doesn’t make you a persona non grata. There have been many great radicals in the world and many radicals have ushered revolutions and great social changes.
Here I’m talking about the contemporary Islamic radicalism most prominently represented by terrorist organisations like the ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram (just to name a few). No matter how vehemently some claim that these are not terrorists but “freedom fighters” (especially the Kashmiri-terrorist-types) by the end of the day, they are a section of the human race that loves blood and gore and wouldn’t like to spoil things by wasting time on things like having a dialogue.
Many also insist that people get radicalised because of the discrimination that they face in day-to-day life. People feel marginalised. They feel “humiliated”. In fact, many insist, the very lack of dialogue drives people towards the blood-soaked pastures of radicalism.
It might be true. If these issues exist in our societies they urgently need to be taken care of so that people are not compelled to embrace radicalism and start finding terrorism glorious and even religious.
We have to accept one thing — people from different communities are going to live together whether we like it or not. Deal with that.
Islam is a religion that has permeated practically every country. Yes, it is sad that whenever Islam is in majority the minorities begin to get destroyed (yes, there are some exceptions, but generally they do, for example, Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh) and wherever it is in minority, it thrives due to the secular nature of most of the non-Islamic societies and governments. So many people, due to this “situation”, are scared that one day Islam is going to run over the world. This is also a reality, and we need to deal with that. The situation isn’t going away easily.
Coming back to the “having dialogue with radicals” part. No, people who have already been radicalised, cannot be re-integrated unless there is a dramatic change in their outlook. There can be instances when people can be rehabilitated but if all someone wants is your total annihilation, there is little scope for dialogue. As I recently mentioned in one of my tweets, you cannot have a dialogue with a person running towards you with a live grenade. Then your priority becomes to either neutralise the person or kill him or her in order to save yourself and to save your loved ones. Life becomes your priority, not reform or a holistic approach. Things like reform and holistic approach come into picture when you have enough space and safety to practice these approaches.
So violence is the only solution? In some cases (for example the ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.) yes, these radicals need to be destroyed completely so that they don’t metastasise.
But there is a problem and this is where dialogue comes in.
There are many countries who are currently supporting terrorist organisations for political reasons. Many believe that the ISIS wouldn’t have happened if America hadn’t attacked Iraq and killed Saddam Hussein. America and Pakistan are always confused between good Taliban and bad Taliban. Similarly, in Syria, who is a terrorist and who isn’t a terrorist depends on which side you are taking. Kashmiri terrorists are called freedom fighters by Pakistan. The indiscretions of Saudi Arabia are overlooked to such an extent that despite having the worst human rights track record the country who still lives in the dark ages heads the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Such things send a mixed signal to countries and people with extremist tendencies. You tell them that it is a matter of convenience whether they are crusaders or terrorists. When you’re causing trouble for Russia you are a crusader and when you’re causing trouble for America you are a terrorist. The same organisation may have a different label in different years and these labels even alternate according to the changing geopolitical situations.
Dialogue and severe action must go simultaneously. If discrimination and alienation exist in our society, they urgently need to be taken care of. If Muslims feel victimised, we need to sit with them and talk to them and ask them exactly why they feel victimised. Many organisations and activists are already doing this but perhaps it’s not enough. The society at large needs to tackle this issue if the problem is to be solved for ever.
We also need to have a dialogue with our own governments if our governments vacillate between good terrorists and bad terrorists. There are no good terrorists and bad terrorists, there are simply terrorists. They know no loyalties. They will bite the hand that feeds them without even blinking an eye lid. Nurturing terror is like setting your neighbour’s house on fire while you and your neighbour share a common wall, thinking your own house will not catch fire. Terrorists have wrought immeasurable destruction and no country remains untouched. Entire lifestyles have been changed because our governments cannot decide whether some people are terrorists or not. There must be an international consensus that terrorism is the worst form of international politicking.
So prolonged dialogue needs to take place between people who feel marginalised and us, and between us and our governments. We should no longer support governments that support terrorism in other countries no matter how remote those countries are.
The terrorist organisations must be dealt with severely and in a united effort. No “interests” should come in the way of dealing with organisations like the ISIS and Al Qaeda. They should be eliminated. Their fundings must be stopped immediately. Armed lobbies that supply arms to them must be liquidated. Countries that support terrorist organisations must be identified, isolated and penalised unambiguously.