Ted Wheeler, the Mayor of Portland, Oregon, USA while commenting on the Portland killings on Friday, May 30 by a white supremacist said:
“There is too much hatred in the world right now and far too much violence. Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts.”
As global citizens wishing to live in peace on this planet, we need to seriously ponder on this statement.
The contemporary political climate is that of injustice, hatreds, racism, bigotry and incitement to violence and finally violent conflicts and wars.
From the beginning of the 21st century, with 9/11 attacks followed by invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a multi-fold increase in use of violent words leading to violent acts.
The strategy of war on terror has in fact been a total failure where we now face a worldwide scourge of terrorism where everyone on the globe is living in fear.
Violence and wars in the Middle East are having global reverberations with terrorists finding an open ground with no borders ready to kill any one, innocent or otherwise, aimlessly.
ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) uses violent words with a distorted narrative to recruit impressionable minds, criminals, mental cases and zealots to violently attack indiscriminately their own neighbours, children, co-religionists and other innocent people.
The attack in Manchester by a British born 22-year-old terrorist, killing and maiming a large number of children is sad. So is the attack on Coptic Christians resulting in the death of innocent men, women and children.
Violence in the Middle East
However, in addition to these high media profile cases, terrorist attacks in many Middle Eastern countries occur on a regular basis where overwhelmingly a large number of innocent Muslims are the victims.
We cannot ignore the victims of war in the Middle East, conflict between various factions as well as aerial attacks by world powers and their proxies that is taking a heavy toll on innocent lives with death and misery.
Muslim minorities in many countries are facing oppression and discrimination thus caught in a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence.
In Burma, the Rohingyas have been undergoing ethnic cleansing by extremist Buddhist violence and suffering under government oppression.
Fear in India
Lately, the large Muslim minority in India is increasingly living in fear from extremist agenda of Islamophobes under the pretext of cow protection and attacks against their customs and traditions.
The politics of hate now has a new dimension where Muslim minorities in the West are coming under attacks largely due to a climate of fear created by terrorist attacks.
Using the excuse of freedom of expression, bigots and racists are using violent words to create hate and division in the community that is increasingly leading into violence.
The Quebec City mosque attack and now the Portland killing are glaring examples.
Another attack close to us is the unprovoked Islamophobic attack on four young Muslim students in Hijab on Wednesday May 10, 2017, in front of the UTS Ultimo building in Sydney by Maria Claudia Gimenez Wilson, 39, alleged to be a Muslim hater.
While authorities deal with security, as global citizens, it is in our great interest to eliminate violent words that lead to violent actions, thereby creating a climate of peace and harmony in our neighbourhood as well as in our global village.
Zia Ahmad is Managing Editor, Australasian Muslim Times, a monthly web-based newspaper published from Sydney, Australia. The above article, which appeared in the June 2017 issue of the publication, has been reproduced here with the permission of Mr Ahmad.