Moderate Views Critical

The terrorist incidents in Paris earlier this week are a stark reminder to peace-loving people in the world that terrorism is here to stay.

While it is not appropriate or correct to tag terrorism to any one religion or movement, it is just unfortunate that people everywhere are trying to associate such terrorist activities to one particular religion or religious belief.

All humans have the same motivations and desire to live, and it is absolutely critical to let people live their lives peacefully. Attempts to snuff out lives from people, irrespective of their beliefs or convictions, do not, on the other hand, remove the cause or existence of such beliefs or convictions. In the Paris case, snuffing out the lives of cartoonists is not going to remove the rationale for the existence of cartoonists in this world. On the other hand, such actions will only strengthen the desire of people for more liberties.

The bad part of the reactions will be to embolden the far right extremists of a different kind, who do not wish to “corrupt” their societies by undesirable immigrants, which is not the way the world should proceed. We should have more mixing, more cosmopolitan and more open societies, and that objective is now likely to be derailed to some extent by these terrorist incidents. Common folks get alienated and start to blame immigrants for all their ills, which is likely to be a common reaction in France at least (surely in the U.K. and Germany as well).

By keeping quiet, the moderate people of any religion are going to lose out. They need to stand up to the extremist elements in their respective religious communities. If that does not happen, then the repercussion on the moderates will be severe as they are the folks who benefit from open societies – they want to mix, intermingle and contribute, like all of us. If they continue to keep quiet, the terrorists will get worse, they will get emboldened, assuming a tacit, silent approval from the majority moderates of their own religious community, and that would prove to be disastrous.

The implications to Europe are enormous, and it would be imperative for all European governments not to go into a panic mode and lock down their cities at the whiff of any such incident. France has always been a beacon of freedom and liberty, and it gave democracy to the world, so one would be very surprised if the French Government takes actions contrary to their beliefs and values. It is very unlikely the French will repeat the mistakes of the U.S. which have caused more turmoil to societies and more isolation in communities that need to be integrated strongly to the mainstream.

However, one does not know the repercussions of the Paris terror incidents, and decisions in the next few days will tell us the general direction of Europe towards immigrant communities. It is just not appropriate to create a sense of insecurity amongst such communities causing further alienation. A lot of thinking has to go into devising solutions and create more security consciousness.

However, the key thing is that the moderates have to speak out, speak now, and do so openly and vocally. Without their active intervention and support, any preventive actions by any government would not be successful.


Vijay Srinivasan

10th January 2015


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