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Concern for innocent victims of terrorism and war

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My column returns today after an enforced three-week absence occasioned by my journey abroad for personal reasons. Please accept my apologies for the unfortunate disruption. As I journeyed home, it again crossed my mind, in encountering fellow-travellers, how this world has shrunk to what is today referred to as a “global village”. In the past, the typical Vincentian returning home was likely to be from a handful of sources – the USA, UK, Canada, Barbados and Trinidad, especially. These days one is likely to sit side-by-side with Vincentians journeying home from Australia, as well as Santo Domingo, Taiwan, as much as Switzerland, Dubai, Tokyo, Mexico City, and even Kazakhstan. The modern world is indeed a small place.

In addition to travel, the rapid telecommunication development has brought home events to us from even what were considered as the “far corners” of the world. We no longer live in isolated cocoons, and events, big or small, no matter where they occur, can have effects on us all. It is in this regard that we must reflect on the horrific events that unfurled in the English city of Manchester this week, an extension of the reign of terror that has engulfed innocent civilians in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia in recent times.

Whatever one’s cause, there can be no justification for cruelly murdering and maiming innocent persons, including young children, as happened in Manchester. Imagine targeting young children on their way out from a concert! How warped can be the minds of those who perpetrate such heinous crimes? The entire international community must stand united in uncompromising condemnation of such murderous mayhem.

Yet, it must be said that one has to be careful in reaction to the actions of the terrorists of Isis, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, or what have you. When they commit their dreadful acts of wanton murder, it is easy to fall prey to the propaganda of some so-called leaders who whip up anti-Muslim sentiments. But these crimes have nothing to do with the holy religion of Islam. We must remember that many were the crimes, including slavery, carried out in the name of Christianity, but those do not invalidate the principles of the Christian religion.

What is critical is the role of the media, especially the powerful international media, in all this. Isis and their fellow-terrorists find fertile ground because of the actions of war waged by those in the West and their allies which, under the misnomer ‘collateral damage”, kill and maim even more children than those who died and are suffering in Manchester. Every day, children, their mothers, the sick and aged in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Somalia, to name a few, face the bombs and weapons of war, whether rained by Assad, the terrorists, the US military or its allies. We must be equally concerned about their fate.

If we, far removed from the actual scenes of the horrors, feel so strongly, just imagine how those in the Middle East who survive a bombing, must feel when they look around them. Perhaps if we get detailed coverage of their suffering, then we might begin to understand how easy it is to find recruits among the aggrieved, how easy it is to poison minds and turn young men and women into cold-blooded killers.

If these concerns and feelings, and the root causes of the war are not addressed, there will unfortunately be many more Manchesters.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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