Munich mall shooting: Why introspection, not Islamophobia should be the way forward

It's Munich now.

The 'lone wolf' has struck again and claimed nine victims, all innocent visitors at a shopping zone. There's no clarity yet whether the German-Iranian youth – German police have ruled out involvement of more people in the attack — was a self-radicalised Muslim, acting on his own or as part of a larger conspiracy or just a random individual venting his anger in a murderous fashion.

It's the third such attack in Europe in a month and there’s nothing to suggest that the frequency would dip anytime soon.

Expect conditioned reflex to get into the act in the analyst, expert and reporting community. They would get back to the same old narrative of terror and regurgitate the same old drivel for our consumption. We would be told about Islam being taken over by radical elements, the intellectual Muslim not doing enough to keep the dark forces in check, Islam inherently being a religion of violence, the demerits of multi-culturalism and how the international community must come together to fight the menace and so on. In India, experts would, based on information from unnamed sources in the intelligence community, would explain how the footprints of Islamic terror is expanding in the country before finally dumping the blame on Pakistan. The response follows an overused template. It’s a template where the narrative is dictated by the perceived superior power in a conflict.

The German rail company Deutsche Bahn has stopped train traffic to Munich's main station and Munich public transit operator MVG has shut down all subway, bus and trolley cars because of the police operation to find the shooters. DPA via AP

The German rail company Deutsche Bahn has stopped train traffic to Munich's main station and Munich public transit operator MVG has shut down all subway, bus and trolley cars because of the police operation to find the shooters. DPA via AP

That is one reason why we won’t notice many stories on the humanitarian crises triggered by the western powers across countries in the Middle-East or Africa. There won’t be questions on their role in destablising governments in several places for purely selfish interest and introducing great instability in the delicate social equilibrium of countries or the morality behind them cosying up to countries such as Saudi Arabia, believed to the ideological fountainhead of radical Islam, or the gargantuan refugee crisis. Most analysts have carefully stayed clear of finding a connection between growing radicalisation and the social and economic disaster unleashed by external forces.

It suits them to spread Islamophobia around. The bogey of Islamic terrorism takes the public attention away from the dangerously hypocritical games the powers play, the root cause of the problem. The big powers see or rather prefer to see an essentially humanitarian matter as a religious-ideological one. That way it becomes easier to manage public opinion back home. The logic is uncomplicated: Give people a hate object, they will keep busy throwing stones at it. They would also try to convince people that it’s only a policing problem which they will manage eventually, and it’s not something arising out of their own foul power play across geographies and demographics.

Now, let’s presume everything that all post-terror attack literature tells us is true. Yes, Islam is a religion of violence; yes, Muslim youth are turning terrorists; yes, sane voices have no control over extremists; yes, Islamic terrorists are at war with other religions. Then what? How long can we go on repeating the same points? There has to be a way forward, a way to think beyond the format. Because the problem we have at hand is serious. When individuals turn terrorists, they are in reality cocking a snook at the arrogance of state power. Religion maybe a prop for their action but need not be core motivating force.

Perhaps it’s time intellectuals looked at the issue differently. They need to think beyond religion and the official logic to understand the human issues driving Muslims, even educated ones, to unspeakable violence. The truth they must internalize is you can defeat armies, but human determination is far difficult to handle. In the end, the lives of innocent people on both sides are at stake. They must be saved.

Updated Date: Jul 23, 2016 12:28 PM

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