Terror attacks predominantly target the Muslim world and aim to extinguish any and all hope.
Having managed to sow the seeds of chaos, spread panic, and normalize states of emergency, Islamic terrorists have reason to celebrate. Celebrating New Year’s is no longer the same. We now find ourselves, as we did last night, surrounded by protective cinder blocks with the collective fear of another truck attack a la Nice or Berlin permeating the air. Similarly, boarding a flight has changed radically since 9/11, with governments adding layer after layer of security and, with good reason, asking passengers to relinquish their right to privacy. Finding oneself in the midst of bulletproof vest-wearing policemen armed with assault rifles when out for a stroll is now the norm in Madrid, London and Berlin.
Yet, despite all the fear and inconvenience that terrorists have brought to the West, nothing can compare to the permanent terror to which it has subjected its greatest victim, the Muslim world.
Istanbul is not some far flung city in a country run by radicals where certain factions give shelter to terrorism. Neither do Muslims have a different concept of life and death, as some analysts have deigned to claim. Turkey is a modern and democratic country where conservative and liberal forces come to a head; it is the ancient capital of a caliphate and an empire; it is a Muslim nation — a religion that in its orthodox form preaches peace and tolerance. “There is no compulsion in religion,” states the Quran.
After the attack on a bar packed with people celebrating the arrival of 2017, the number killed this year stands at 300 in a country of 74 million—a country that in the dreams and ambitions of its people is closer to Europe than, for example, Russia. It is true that the current governing party is trying to tighten its grip on power and exhibits authoritarian tendencies when it comes to the press and the opposition. Yet, despite this, Turkey remains a country where journalism, art, dissidence, education, and the desire for progress fight on in the face of greater adversity.
Similar events have taken place in Egypt, a country that a few years ago was thrust into the hands of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and where radical Islam has just put an end to one of its largest revenue streams, tourism. In 2016 alone, 350 people died from terrorist attacks in the country— tourists, policemen, Christians and, above all, innocent civilians.
Egypt is a country of 90 million people where nearly 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, or rather survives on less than 25 euros a month. It is a diverse and vibrant society with renowned dissidents, intellectuals, writers, men and women.
According to various nongovernmental organizations, if we include the massacres perpetrated by the Islamic State in Syria—another parasitic group which put an end to the legitimate opposition to the regime with the ultimate effect of strengthening Assad—21,000 people were killed by Islamic terrorism worldwide in 2016.
Yet, somehow, the West still simply sees these attacks in Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan as the norm in the Muslim world. It sees them as the result of the adherence to a religion that we do not understand and which, at least as we seem to remember reading in some history book, appears to justify violence.
However, in no Islamic text will there be found any justification whatsoever for all this death and violence. We have suffered from the irrationality of terrorism for centuries, not just for the sake of religion, but also for political, ideological and nationalist motives, as we in Spain know well.
This longing for blood and death does not come from prayer but out of ruins—those of states ravaged by fratricidal, Soviet and North American wars, of states whose progress was impeded and whose resources were plundered by Western imperialism. The context which gives rise to this longing is not Islam but poverty, hopelessness, a lack of assistance, and the absence of education, a fertile breeding ground for ignorance.
Regardless, the easiest solution is to simply point the finger at Islam, as do European extremists, who are on the rise, and the team who will accompany the new leader of the free world, Donald Trump, to the White House in three weeks. They have no interest in knowing the true causes behind this global problem because they do not understand its nuances. Ultimately, these new Western powers have propelled themselves to the top on the back of fear, rejection, walls, deportations and a “no” to compromise.