The President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Dr. Chandra Muzaffar warned us on the day of Osama bin Laden‘s death that the root causes of terrorism have not yet been addressed. He reminded us that Osama’s Number Two is 100% committed to the terrorist way, and the danger of revenge may be even greater than before. The fact is that the major issues that caused al-Qaeda to recruit disaffected and confused young Muslims to its mission remain largely unaddressed.
Most commentators mention the Palestinian condition as one of terrorism’s “root causes”. Without denying the burning relevance of this issue, let us look at a few other possible terror motivators.
In the 1950’s, a world of economic opportunity was designed to absorb the working energies of about two billion inhabitants of the Planet Earth. Our population now is nearly seven billion, and the systems are breaking down.
In short, unemployment among the young is one of the worst contributors to social dysfunction, including suicide among the education-limited children. Under Suharto, there was so much work to be done in Indonesia, and yet the young people so often lay around in the streets, totally idle. Surely, this is one of the major “sins of Suharto”.
Need we mention breakdown of the family? In the name of “equal rights”, American wives started taking off their wedding rings whenever they wanted to go out and “feel free”. After all, many men didn’t wear them.
Essentially, terror is a product of the animal kingdom. When we deny “family”, we become animals ourselves, and this is one reason terror has entered our lives.
There is a big difference between “fear” and “terror”, but you probably won’t understand it until you have really been terrorized. There is no one who has any right to terrorize us for any reason whatsoever.
Some of our religious leaders, being the weaklings that they are, should have been telling us this all along. So one major cause of terrorism is weak leaders, leaders who are themselves morally confused, have the wrong world view of Islam and who pass that confusion along to their youth. We find, for example, leaders who permit public suicide for political purposes.
If poverty is behind much terror, than greed is behind much poverty. As we say in English, “The love of money is the root of all evil”. It is not the greed of the poor that causes trouble. It is the greed of the well-to-do, all those sinners who use their money to make more money without working for it. All stock exchanges and “bursas” fall into this category. Even Osama was found and killed in a mansion, when all this time we thought he was living in a Pakistani cave!
Politicians are one of the causes of terrorism. What can we do with these people? How did they get such power over our lives? How can they be so stupid and create such havoc? Where are their standards of performance? How can we hold them accountable in these oligarchies and one-party democracies of ours?
The people in the Middle East are rising and demanding to have a voice in their leadership. Perhaps such a voice will reduce the need for terrorism. We can only hope as much.
AZRIL MOHD AMIN is vice-president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia. He has his writings archived at www.azrilmohdamin.com.