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Democratic opinions deafening silence in

the face of extremism



September 10, 2014
An image grab taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) and
identified by private terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group on
September 2 2!"# purportedly sho$s %"&year&old 'S freelance $riter
Steven Sotloff dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape
speaking to the camera before being beheaded by a masked militant (())
The masked militant condemns 'S attacks on the Islamic State before
cutting Sotloff*s throat) +e then introduces a second captive identified by
name and said to be ,ritish and threatens to kill him) A-.
In acts of dumbfounding terror t$o American /ournalists have been
apparently beheaded in Ira0 over the past fe$ $eeks but the 1democratic*
$orld has failed to denounce these manifestations of manic insanity $ith
any vehemence and cogency $orth mentioning) 2et it be remembered that
3ames -oley and Steven Sotloff $ere said to have been engaged in their
professional duties in the mentioned theatre of conflict and $ere not
carrying out any battle field functions $hich may have provoked a military
response to their actions on the part of the terrorists) They $ere clearly
not doing anything $hich $ould have seemed to be 1incompatible $ith
their status)*
4hile brutality of any kind against anyone needs to meet $ith our
condemnation the mass media*s centrality to the vibrancy of the
democratic $ay of life makes the killing of /ournalists particularly alarming
and $orrisome) As pointed out by some commentators the videotaping of
the 1beheading* of the /ournalists concerned and its subse0uent
dissemination may be intended to strike terror into the hearts of people
every$here and make them fear the 1Islamic State* but the message is
also relayed in stark terms that the people*s (ight to Information is being
derisively dismissed out of hand by the terrorists) In other $ords the
veritable public e5ecutions are also aimed at crippling democratic
institutions)
This much $ould probably have been clear to discerning sections but
/ournalists* organi6ations locally and internationally are yet to denounce
these acts of barbarism) Such apparent unconcern is as $orrying as the
acts of terror in 0uestion) 7r is anti&Americanism so strong and $idespread
that the killing of the /ournalists is failing to elicit even a $ord of
condemnation from the relevant sections8
In situations of this kind principle needs to triumph over politics) The
people*s right to kno$ must be considered an inviolable principle and those
choosing to violate it must meet $ith our condemnation) If not anti&
democratic forces are being endorsed and upheld) The deafening silence
among 1democratic* opinion over the /ournalists* 1e5ecutions* is clear proof
that democratic institutions are being allo$ed to be eroded by sections
$ho should kno$ better) 9arro$ political considerations are being made to
$in over fundamental rights) This is clearly a 1no&$in* situation for people
the $orld over)
It is left to the 1democracies* of the $orld to unite
over these troubling 0uestions) 4hen those states
$hich pose as 1democratic* fail to uphold the
people*s (ight to Information by helping to protect
the legitimate interests of /ournalists every$here
anti&democratic forces are endorsed and given a
ma/or shot in the arm) The Sri 2ankan state and
local /ournalists* organi6ations need to make their position clear on the
brutal murder of the American /ournalists and the same goes for all those
sections the $orld over $hich s$ear by democracy)
The deafening silence greeting the American /ournalists* murders could
also mean that anti&Americanism or racism is triumphing over humanity
and democracy) In other $ords the so&called Islamic State in Ira0 and
Syria is being endorsed and $inked at) Is this $hat the 1democratic* $orld
has been $orking to$ards8
There is a clear need to differentiate 'S state policy from the fundamental
interests of 4estern publics most of $hich are commonly shared by
people outside the 4est) To be sure 'S foreign and security policies have
had the effect of polari6ing some polities and in deepening international
divisions) 'S policy on Ira0 and Afghanistan for instance has resulted in
3ihadic forces gaining considerable strength) 7n this score the 'S $ould
need to be opposed and critici6ed but it is another matter to provide
indirect backing for terror by overlooking or 1going soft* on the atrocities of
terror groups $hich are hostile to the 4est) 'S policy may have helped in
bringing into being anti&4est terror groups but the latter cannot be even
tacitly supported on that score) -or if terror is being opposed in principle
and practice this stands good for all situations)
A duty is cast on the 4est and other states s$earing by democratic
governance to ensure that e5tremist violence is firmly opposed) ,esides
moderate opinion every$here needs to come to the forefront of political
life) These moderate sections should ensure that their publics are
completely alienated from the agents of e5tremist violence) :oderate
opinion is in the ma/ority almost every$here and these forces need to
$ield a predominant influence in their societies)
-ortunately in some sections of the Islamic $orld moderate opinion groups
are beginning to be articulate on $hat their foundational values ought to
be) 1Islam is mercy and love and communication $ith the other) The
heinous acts carried out by IS not only contradict Islam but are offensive
to it Sheikh ;haldun Araymit secretary&general of 2ebanon*s Supreme
Islamic <ouncil $as 0uoted saying)
Such sentiments $in the backing of the ma/ority of citi6ens in :uslim
ma/ority states) +o$ever the challenge before such opinion is to be in the
forefront of the religious cultural and political life of their societies) -or the
4est too this is the foremost challenge that confronts it in the Islamic
$orld) +o$ to make the voices of moderation be heard and heeded is the
0uestion)
The 'S has hitherto backed :uslim conservative opinion in its battle
against political e5tremism in the Islamic $orld) <onse0uently moderate
opinion in these societies has not got an opportunity to play a ma/or role in
their polities) This policy must change and the 'S must think in terms of
increasingly engaging and bringing to the forefront moderate and
democratically&oriented Islamic opinion)
There needs to be a coming together of moderate political opinion the
$orld over and 1democratically*&inclined states every$here need to
consider it incumbent on them to play a pivotal role in bringing into being
a united front of moderate opinion $hich is committed to fundamental
rights humanity and religious tolerance) This should be achieved in
cooperation $ith the '9 and its agencies)
Thus far it is states $hich have played a predominant role in the affairs of
the '9) If $e are to see a decrease in the kind of violence $hich has been
unleashed against democratic institutions and principles such as the (ight
to Information and religious tolerance moderate publics must be given a
considerable role in the policy&formation process $ithin the '9 system)
This $ill help in ma5imi6ing the influence of humani6ing forces $ithin the
international organi6ation) -or not all states are fully representative of
their publics)
Posted by Thavam