Drowning in Despair
At a time when even being thankless would have been a crime, a lunatic individual has inflicted injury upon a society that had opened its arms for him and his folks. Repulsion is therefore bound to be expected
The killing of twelve Christmas shoppers in Berlin by the Tunisian terrorist, Anis Amri is disgraceful, to say the least. The mayhem in Berlin is bound to reinforce the perception of fear from Muslim immigrants among the natives in Europe, just as the three extremely condemnable attacks (against Charlie Hebdo staffers, on the stadium in Paris and on vacationers on the Nice beach) did last year. It is also bound to provide greater scope for right-wing forces to mobilize wide support for their anti-immigrant stance all across the Western democracies. The victory of Mr. Donald Trump in the US Presidential election may have set the tone for the same.
For Germany to be the target of a hate attack was least expected. What accentuates the sense of revulsion is the fact that Germany had been the only destination of hope amid the overall negative sentiments against Muslims and immigrants all across the world. With Muslim economies in dire straits, political anarchy having taken deep roots in the entire Middle East, and Muslim societies in severe distress, Germany had opened its doors for millions who neither shared its language, nor its dominant religion and ethos. It did all this despite voices of protest, feeble though. At a time when even being thankless would have been a crime, a lunatic individual has inflicted injury upon a society that had opened its arms for him and his folks. Repulsion is therefore bound to be expected.
There cannot be a greater moment for concern and introspection for Muslims. There are no visionary plans, nor any statemanesque voices emerging from the Islamic world. Turkey, the only Parliamentary democracy and a robust economy in the Middle East, is wrestling with influx of Syrian refugees, Kurdish insurgents and terrorism promoted by the ISIL. Iran has shortened its stature with strident support to the disastrous Bashar al-Assad regime, which is seen to be the central cause for the long-drawn out civil war in Syria. It has painted itself into a corner by insisting on retaining its leverage with the regime of the Syrian dictator rather than aligning its foreign policy with principles of democracy and human rights. The Iran-Syria duo have also brought in Russia into the region as another party in the superpower game. Egypt has fallen from the radar of hope, grappling as it is with threats to the military regime.
Amid hopelessness, the Muslim migrants are pouring onto shores of Mediterranean nations which themselves are not in the pink of health. Hundreds of them meet a watery grave en route. Those who manage to sail and swim across encounter xenophobia and are viewed as a cultural threat and as potential grabbers of remnant opportunities by the native jobless youth. Greece, Italy and Spain are in no mood to entertain any more immigrants. Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have been gracious enough in providing them passage to the Eldorado states of Western Europe. Residual hatred against Muslims in splinter-states of the former Yugoslavia leaves no option for them to absorb any migrants, let alone Middle-eastern ones. Britain has surpassed its limits of being multicultural.
But more than anything else, it is the absence of introspection and self-scrutiny among Muslims that is surprising. There are no brainstorming sessions, no attempts to analyze causes of the human tragedy that afflicts the Ummah. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation(OIC), the apex body of the Islamic nations, replaced its chief Iyad al-Madani last month with another Saudi, Yusef bin Ahmed al-Uthaimeen, and no one questioned as to who had nominated the new incumbent and why the previous one had to go. Even otherwise, the OIC has been in limbo during all these years of the ‘Arab Spring’, mulling over how to react to the new wave. Perhaps no one would be happier than the OIC at the natural end of the ‘Spring’.
The all-pervading despondency should certainly not lead to cynicism, although scope for the latter is ample. Muslims must attempt to seek solutions within the current context. Achieving social, economic and political stability must take the priority for each state. Recent history suggests that instead of raising the bogey of ‘the Ummah in danger’ each unit (i.e., nation-state) must focus on its own stability and development. Major items on the blueprint should be economic progress, attainment of decent ranking on the Human Development Index, respect for human rights, efforts to achieve gender equality, guarantees of respect for and protection of minorities and their culture, developing capabilities to defend against aggression, eschewing irredentist ambitions, maintaining peace with neighbours and compliance with all international laws. Things have come to the current passé due to myopic views of nationalism and ambitions for regional supremacy. The pygmy states need to realize the futility of bald men fighting for a comb.