Uberisation of Terror

 Published in: The Daily Star on June 15, 2016
Uberisation of Terror

Uber offers private rides in private cars at your own convenience. It means you don’t have to wait for the rain to stop; you don’t have to queue up; you don’t have to be anxious about hours when cab drivers are just going through shift change. Uber service, though controversial in many cities, still happens to be comfortable. Uber, the company owns no cars yet in an instant, manages to pick you up from your location and reaches you to your destination.

Terror is uberised as well. There are just too many incidents of terror all around the world to ignore the common pool of violence. When a terrorist pops up from one corner of the world and screams: Allah is Great, when another surfaces from somewhere and straps a jacket and blows himself up, one wonders how this uberisation of terror is actually working across the globe. It’s like the IS is claiming every act of terror to be their own, irrespective of not having any proveable plan or evidence of association. It’s almost as if terror is ordered in the name of God which arrives freshly packaged at your doorstep, causing you losses of life or honour. Just like Uber services, without owning any platform, except extreme fundamentalism, terror is easily available in all our neighborhoods.

While Hillary Clinton calls it “radical Islamism”, whether Obama just calls it “home grown terrorism”, or whether Donald Trump tweets, “I was right. When are we going to be tough and vigilant?”, the whole episode of terror in Orlando is just another tragedy for the beautiful religion of Islam in the month of Ramadan. What can be more horrific than to watch the whole world being divided on Islam? What can sadden one more than to watch all the vigils around the world along with Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, Auckland’s Sky Tower and Eiffel Tower being lit up in rainbow colours in grief? A few minutes back, on a television screen, the breaking news of Mateen, the Orlando gunman flashed. Apparently he had visited Disneyland before the killing. Right before that, a friend of mine had just Whatsappd me: “The world will not remember Orlando for Disney anymore; people will only talk about the Pulse Club.” Apparently all these killers and suicide bombers are ‘regular Joe’s’, dutiful sons, great brothers, and yet they are radicalised.

Let me share how terror impacts me. While packing my bags, I came across a few cards of people from different Islamic centres that I had just met in the South East a few weeks ago. I disappointed myself deeply and remain ashamed that I tore up all the cards in fear of them being discovered in the airport the next morning when I cross the security checks. This is what these acts of terrorism are doing to regular people like us. I can’t afford to be singled out at airports, restaurants, or malls. I can’t afford to be spotted as a woman in eastern attire, trying to travel across the world and be stopped in every trip just because I look incredibly Muslim.

But how does terror impact me at home when we hear of the killings of two Hindus, one Christian and the wife of an anti-terror official last week? Targeted attacks on Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and atheists have left the country reeling in shock. So far 48 killings over the past 18 months have been blamed on radical Muslims. IS, without any substantially proven base in Bangladesh, has claimed responsibility of more than half of the killings, including the recent hacking to death of a Hindu priest, a Hindu monastery worker and a Christian grocer. According to the US based SITE intelligence Group, Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for most of the remaining victims. In between January and April of this year, police has reported a total of 5,417 unnatural deaths. In the last seven years, the figure in the same category had been 12,000. In the last three years, 11 bloggers and activists have been brutally killed. On February 22 this year, in Panchagarh’s Debiganj upazila, the murder of Jogeswar Ray, a Hindu teacher, was claimed by IS. On March 23, this year, in Kurigram, Ali, a Christian convert and freedom fighter, was hacked to death. On April 23, Professor Rezaul Karim Siddiqui of Rajshahi University was murdered in the same fashion and manner, on account of being progressive and a cultural activist. The responsibility of his death was claimed by IS via a twitter message. Just a day before Professor Siddiqui’s murder, a sadhu was knifed to death in Tungipara. Just a day later, on April 24, an LGBT activist and USAID employee, Xulhaj Mannan and his friend Mahbub Tonoy were axed to death in Mannan’s residence in Kalabagan.

I remember having sacked an old guard of ours once just because I discovered that he was donating part of his salary to a political organisation. The fact that he barely earned enough to keep his family together and yet took a cut for the sake of his religious beliefs unnerved me, and I haven’t regretted the decision ever since, specially because we ARE living in dangerous century, where there has been over a nine-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism, rising from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. The sombre repetitiveness of terror attacks is crushing our morale and no matter what we say and how we say it, it is becoming difficult to walk as a Muslim today. Truth be known, no matter how we push our rhetoric of a terrorist having no nationality, the major part of the world maps us, the Muslims, as aggressors. For a religion as old and as beautiful as this, it is shameful that we should walk with heads bent because of a handful of transgressors.

The terrorists who strike our nation today with audacity may have targeted to destabilise the current administration. If so, then we must remind ourselves that these cowards do not have the courage to take to streets and call for democracy. Their diction of piety equals sneaking up on an innocent passerby at an ungodly hour, murdering him/her and fleeing the crime scene on a motorbike. You don’t call them Muslims. You call them infidels who have no faith in life. And if they can consider killing the minorities, LGBTs, bloggers and activists, a political ploy, then they can kill us all.

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