Recent Terror Attacks On Belgium And The Rest Of Us | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Recent Terror Attacks On Belgium And The Rest Of Us

Posted: Mar 24, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Sam Kargbo


Brussels, the Belgian capital was hit on Tuesday, 22nd March, 2016, between 8 a.m and 9:10 a.m, by three explosions that killed 34 people and injured about 190. The first two explosions hit the Zaventem Airport and the third a subway station at the heart of the city. The terrorist group that calls itself the  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier, on the 13th and 14th of November, 2015, the same ISIS group attacked the French capital Paris and Saint-Denis – one of its suburbs, hitting the Stade de France – the French National Stadium, restaurants and a theatre, among other locations. Those attacks, said to have been orchestrated from Belgium, claimed about 130 lives. The Belgian Police made a series of raids and arrests across Belgium that culminated in the arrest of the 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam on 18th  March, 2016.

Naturally, the attacks in Belgium overshadowed President Barrack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba and the ongoing presidential primaries in the United States of America, global attention being on the ramifications and ripple effects of the attacks, especially at a time that Europe is faced with a scourge or deluge of refugees from Syria, the home of ISIS. Already, the analyst is hinting that the West, particularly Europe, must have underestimated the danger posed by ISIL and other terrorist networks, and the extent of their infiltration of Europe. There is the fear that ISIS has already established functional terror factories right inside Europe, and that those Belgian attacks are a message to the European Union that the worse is yet to come.

I agree entirely with those who emphasize that the Belgian attacks underscore the vulnerability of Europe to terrorism. I, however, have my reservations and worries about calls for a review of Europe’s open society. Blaming the attacks on anti-discriminatory and racial inclusion policies misses the point. Europe cannot afford to turn back the hand of time. It is too late and unrealistic to attempt to rebuild monocultural societies in the west. Not even Japan, China and South Korea can remain insulated for too long from now.

My unfinished thoughts on the matter are summarised by President Obama in his reaction to the Belgian attacks. To Obama, the attacks are “another reminder that the world must unite against the scourge of terrorism,” adding that, “We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting the scourge of terrorism” if we are to defeat “those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”

On the other hand, the reactions to the Belgian attacks by the Republican Presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, and his rival, Ted Cruz, capture the mind of incendiary and xenophobic Westerners who believe that the cure for terrorism is to shut Muslims out of the West.

The atavistic Trump has his usefulness. But for him, many of us would still have been basking in the delusion that racism is dead in America. Those of us who have been watching America from a distance had believed that its citizens – its human components – had been melted into one united and cohesive society. I, for one,had believed that the last chapter of the American history ended with the presidency of Barack Obama, in whom I saw an America in which every racial group overcame the obstacles in the process of becoming American; and in which each and everyone was partaking in the American Dream. Donald Trump graded me low in my estimation of America. He pulled down the façade that hid the racial prejudice and religious intolerance that still pervade America. Racist America sees in Trump a hero with the guts to say their mind and damn the consequences.

Back to the terror attacks, I will conclude this piece with the following quotation from my earlier piece on the Boko Haram Challenge:

“Philosophers have very caustic way of presenting truths. Because they tell their stories with no emotions, they sometimes scare the majority of us from listening to them and perhaps take necessary cues from them. Take for instance, Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan postulations. Standing on his thesis that nothing could be worse than life without state protection, Hobbes expended a lot of energy on rationalizing people’s behaviour. According to him, just like “an object will eternally be in motion unless somewhat stays it” so is human behaviour. And like a warning against the over reliance on state power to respond to internal petty threats or distractions, Hobbes said that “The weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others.”

Terror is part of humanity and it is in the best interest of humanity to face it squarely with reason and not with brawny reactions as exemplified by Trump.


Kargbo, a Public Commentator, writes from Lagos