“Terrorists have no religion!” is a phrase that is frequently brandished about by many soon after an act of terror transpires. The phrase is usually employed by those who seek to delink the ‘radical religious motivations’ of individuals from their ‘acts of terror’; this despite the fact that in many such instances, there may well be enough evidence to establish a direct link between radical religious beliefs and the influence that these beliefs may have wielded over the decisions of individuals to engage in terrorist activities.
This attempt to disassociate the radical religious motivations of terrorists from the acts of terror committed by them was something that one witnessed a great deal of, in several instances of media coverage in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in France, for which the ISIS has claimed responsibility.
A section of the world media did not leave any stone unturned in their attempts to try and portray the individuals, said to be behind the terror attacks in France as individuals whose actions did not appear to be in consonance with their claimed religious leanings; one of the many justifications for this portrayal by the media was attributed to the apparently copious drug and alcohol consumption habits of the alleged masterminds behind the terror attacks in Paris; the logic behind these cryptic justifications being that a true Muslim would never indulge in activities like drug and alcohol consumption as they go against the tenets of Islam.
This might not appear to be an inference that is necessarily all that overreaching. But if one were to disagree with this logic, I suppose it could just be a well-intentioned attempt by a section of the media to paint the terrorists behind the Paris attacks as drug addicts and drunkards who were using their ‘misinterpreted’ religious beliefs as an excuse to put into action their ‘non-religious’ anti-social agenda.
I used the term ‘well-intentioned’ because the media in general (or at least a fairly substantial section of it) treads very carefully and diplomatically when it comes to discussing what the radical religious beliefs of such terrorists are and how these beliefs influence their thoughts and actions.
On the other hand however, there have been certain mainstream voices (in India too) that have not hesitated to address this connection between radical religious beliefs and acts of terror.
One such voice is that of writer and commentator Tavleen Singh who in her recent column written after the terror attacks in France, entitled ‘Are Indian Muslims beginning to identify with their brethren in other parts of the world?’ made the following observations:
“The truth is that jihadi terrorism has everything to do with Islam for those who think of the time of the Prophet as a blessed time that Muslims must return to. In that time there were wars in which the Prophet fought, so he put into the Koran verses that instruct his followers to deal in many nasty ways with those who refuse to believe in his message. It is in strict adherence to these instructions that the Islamic State (IS) commits its hideous crimes against countries it believes are filled with sinners and us idol-worshippers.”
“In the Caliphate’s own words. “In a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah, a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate (may Allah strengthen and support it) set out targeting the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe — Paris…Thus they were truthful with Allah — we consider them so — and Allah granted victory upon their hands.” “
“The second lie that has been repeated often in the past week is that every religion has the same message. Not true. No Indic religion orders believers to treat non-believers as heathens or ‘kafirs’. There is not a single Indic religion that believes that it alone has all the answers and that those who do not accept this should be treated as scum. Islam not only believes that those who do not accept Islam are ‘kafirs’, it also believes that it is Allah’s wish that non-Islamic lands be treated as battlefields on which holy wars must be fought. If you are unfamiliar with the term Dar-ul-Harb, Google it up and find out exactly what it means.”
One may or may not agree with the above observations put forth by Tavleen Singh. But suffice it to say that a large section of the media simply refuses to address or openly debate the possible role of Radical religious beliefs in influencing the actions of terrorists. This is nothing but an obvious and deliberate denial of the existence of a conspicuous elephant in the room; that no matter how hard one tries is never going to be easy to ignore or get away from.
Having said this, I believe it is also necessary for individuals (including people like myself) who despair over the dominant and cozy media narrative on this issue (and several other issues) to realize that no purpose is really served by ‘debating over’ or ‘taking on’ as it were, the obvious agenda driven reportage of a large section of the media.
The idea/trick therefore is to use ‘their’ ‘weapons’ to set ‘our’ own agenda. Their ‘weapon’ in this case being the message that “Terrorism has nothing to do with Religion”. Fair enough! Let us accept this to be true. In that case why should it be incumbent upon States like ours to extend these “Non-religious” terrorists the courtesy of a “Religious” last rites ceremony!?
This is not an unreasonable question. It occurred to me when I learnt of the recent religious burials that were accorded to one of the Paris attackers and also the ISIS influenced terrorist couple with roots in Pakistan, who carried out the recent shootings in San Bernardino, U.S.A.
This is a pertinent question even in an Indian context; given that India has over the last several years borne the brunt of terror attacks orchestrated by local and cross-border Islamist radical groups like SIMI, Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba that unambiguously justified their terror in the name of Islam.
I would however like to emphasize that calling for the doing away with the religious burial of a dead (slain or hanged after conviction) terrorist in India does not automatically mean that one is calling for the State to treat the corpses of dead terrorists inhumanely.
As there are alternatives that could be explored for the appropriate utilization of these ‘non-religious’ corpses, that would actually contribute towards helping humanity; alternatives which would prove to be the antithesis to the depraved end-goals of martyrdom and hero-worship that terrorists seek to achieve when they unleash their terror.
A shortage of cadavers has long been the bane of Medical colleges across India. So much so that in recent years a few medical colleges in India have actually begun using artificial surgical simulation techniques to educate medical students, so as to overcome challenges presented by this acute shortage of cadavers.
And while it is laudable that Indian medical institutes are overcoming challenges of this nature by embracing evolving Medical technology, recent studies have also revealed that working on Cadavers continue to remain the best way for Medical students to learn about the Human Anatomy; this according to a Research report tabled by researchers at Michigan State University, U.S.A.
Therefore, in light of the same it would make a lot of sense, in my opinion, for the Government of India to donate the ‘non-religious’ corpses of all terrorists who carry out attacks against India, to the various Medical Colleges located in different parts of India, for the purpose of medical research and training.
Furthermore it is important to note that the procedure involved in donating ‘unclaimed’ terrorist corpses would be a much simpler task; and mind you, this is usually the kind of corpse that remains in instances of cross border terrorism; since our neighbors from across the border have always been unable to show enough courage to claim the bodies of their ‘supposed’ non-state actors involved in terror attacks on Indian soil.
Perhaps the Government of India should begin this trend by denying a burial and instead donating the 5 corpses of the ‘non religious’ terrorists killed in the recent Pathankot attacks, to AIIMS in New Delhi for medical research?
Fair question, I reckon; or rather a ‘grave’ one?
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