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What Outrage Based On Religion Over Terror Attacks Says About Us

Posted by Vidyashankar Ramashesha in Politics, Society
July 18, 2017

Terrorism showed its ugly head once again with the attacks on the Amarnath pilgrims. Eight pilgrims became victims of a cowardly attack. The nation was rightly outraged. However, take a moment to understand why you were outraged over this attack. Was your outrage a result of the victims being Hindu? Or was it because the perpetrators were Muslims? If it was any of the two reasons, you are a part of the problem. When we base our outrage on the religion of the victim or the perpetrator, we are indirectly lending our support to discrimination.

Caste violence took place in Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur in May 2017. Upper caste men allegedly set fire to 25 homes belonging to Dalits. The magnitude of our outrage over such violence does not seem as evident as the one we saw during the Amarnath tragedy.

Our anger is magnified when the religious colour of the victim and the perpetrator are different. But the moment the victim and the assailant end up belonging to the same religious group, we let our guards down, labelling it as an ‘internal issue’ and a violence which is ‘mindless’. By viewing lives of people only through the prism of religious identities, we propagate the idea that certain religious groups are the perpetrators and other groups are victims. Such ideas breed hatred and intolerance. More importantly, it promotes apathy, something that will be counter-productive to efforts that are being made to prevent terrorism. An apathetic and divided society is essentially the holy grail for terrorism.

Even when we try to promote communal harmony, we do so through the prism of religious identity. Sheikh Saleem Gafoor Bhai, a bus driver became a hero for saving several pilgrims in Amarnath. Some sections of the media proudly printed news of Kashmiris donating blood to the Amarnath victims. Both were acts of compassion. But they received considerable attention on social media and print media, as it was a case of Muslim/ Muslims helping Hindus. Dig deep and ask yourself. Were you happy they saved lives or were you happy they saved Hindu lives despite being Muslims? Many communal incidents have such stories of people breaking communal barriers to help victims. It is no more a ‘human thing’ to be compassionate but a ‘Hindu/ Muslim/ Sikh/ Christian thing’.

In matters of terrorism, if you choose which end of the religious prism you belong to, you are providing a leverage to the terrorists to manipulate your emotions for their lust for power. Terrorism is terrorism. Period. Do not go soft on terrorists, irrespective of whether they belong to your caste, religion, race or nationality. Do not try to look at the religious identities of the victims of terrorism either. One is a perpetrator and the other, a victim. One deserves to be brought to justice and the other deserves justice. That is all there is, in an act of terrorism.

Image source: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images