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Terrorism, hate speech and religious bigotry - EDITORIAL

18 March 2019 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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n Friday, March 16, New Zealand, known best for its sheep and wide-open country sides, literally exploded onto the world stage when a white supremacist gunman coldly and deliberately opened fire on Muslims at prayer in two mosques.
Forty-nine persons, including children, were killed and dozens of others wounded -- eleven of them seriously by Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist terrorist. 
The perpetrator, was apparently ‘radicalised’ over a period of time via social media and the web, using what is referred to as ‘dark sites’. Before embarking on his murderous rampage, Tarrant uploaded a hate-filled  manifesto which he claimed was the cause celibre behind his murderous rampage and the means to save western civilisation from Islamists and foreign invaders bent on destroying western civilisation and Christianity. The man was not probably aware that the US, Australia and New Zealand are not lands belonging to the European community.


In his manifesto, Tarrant refers to on-line ideology which inspired him, an ideology which seeks to recruit and radicalise young whites to save western civilisation from foreign invaders. Sadly US President Trump too, is among modern-day western political leaders who without any evidence, continue to blame the Muslim community, immigrants and refugees for acts of terrorism, rape and crime taking place in the US and in Europe. 
Back in 2011, Anders Breivik described as a right-wing Norwegian Christian extremist who was critical of Muslim immigration and European liberalism, carried out a bombing which killed eight people in Oslo, later on the same day, he went on a shooting spree killing 69 youth on nearby Utoya island. Prior to this carnage, Anders Breivik also published his manifesto. He  believed that western civilisation was endangered by Islam and western liberalism at home. 
Closer home, earlier this month, a ‘radicalised’ Kashmiri young man drove an explosive-laden vehicle into an Indian military convoy killing around 40 soldiers and injuring dozens more. The act marks a significant change in the ongoing Kashmiri conflict. In the past, most attacks on the Indian forces in Kashmir were carried out by foreign fighters such as Afghans and Iraqis who infiltrated India’s porous border via neighbouring Pakistan. 


In European countries; ranging from Germany to Britain and France, have been subject to Islamic terrorist attacks carried out in large by young men and women born in those countries. Young people are being ‘radicalised’ by Islamist hate preachers and religious bigots via social media and the websites. 
A common thread running through these terrorist attacks has been a common hatred against those subject to the senseless attacks and a feeling of being discriminated against by society. They are egged on by opportunist politicians, political ideologists and religious bigots promoting violence as a means to resolve problems via social media. 
In Australia for instance, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the suspected New Zealand killer as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” an Australian senator, Fraser Anning responded to the Christchurch attack by blaming “The immigration programme which allowed ‘Muslim fanatics’ to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” In his manifesto, the gunman, who referred to himself as a “regular white man,” wrote that he was carrying out the attack to “Directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves.” 


In Sri Lanka, we too underwent a similar brainwashing when our politicians from both sides of the racial-divide spouted race hatred. More recently, we saw the rise of religious bigotry against our brothers in the Muslim community. Fortunately the attempts to destabilise the country were contained. 
The emphasis is on ‘contained’. We, Sri Lankans have not completely resolved either the problem of racism or the problems posed by religious differences. If we fail to tackle these problems now, there is every possibility that hate preachers and religious bigots will use social media and websites to radicalise sections of our own youth who are disgruntled with the day-to-day issues which are growing worse, and who especially feel, are being let down by the present status quo.

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