Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Counting the Fatalities

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Counting the Fatalities

“In spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers,” these words have been spoken by a famous Nobel Laureate Martin Luther King.

The vacuum for tolerance and acceptance is felt strongly among human societies, especially with the radical practices of religious ideologues. People are killed on the grounds of their caste, color and creed around the globe and terrorist networks seek to stoke sectarianism. Human rights and liberty are violated to a great extent since war and violence continue unabated. The spirit of brotherhood is missing and life has turned cheap.

The terrorist networks inflicted heavy casualties upon individuals from different races and religions and the pace and scope of the killing are dizzying. Some 300 members of families blown apart by bombs as they celebrated the end of Ramadan in Baghdad. Forty-nine dead at the Istanbul airport, 40 more in Afghanistan. Nine Italians, seven Japanese, three students at American universities and one local woman brutalized in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The bodies piled up on a bus in Somalia, at a mosque and video club in Cameroon, at a shrine in Saudi Arabia.

All that carnage was in a single week — a single week of summer in what feels like an endless stream of terror attacks. Orlando and Beirut. Paris and Nice and St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Germany and Japan and Egypt. Each bomb or bullet tearing holes in homes and communities. The oldest victim was, reportedly, Sevinc Gokay, an 84-year-old retired civil servant who was killed in Ankara. The youngest were not even born: Two pregnant women were killed along with the babies they carried; a third, Songul Bektas, survived but lost her pregnancy in its third trimester. There were 17 victims 10 or younger; and 27 ages 11 to 17. There were Jews and Christians and atheists, and at least one Hindu, but 151 of the victims, 61 percent, were Muslim. 

A Taliban splinter group claimed to be targeting Christians at the Lahore Park, Pakistan. But most of those killed there, too, were Muslim – like Zubaida Amjad, 40, who knew the Quran by heart and was teaching her 12-year-old daughter, Momina Amjad, to recite the verses. The girl was killed, too.
In Brussels, Ankara and Istanbul, the attacks ended lives that had been lived in relative security. In Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where terror and violence lurk around every corner, some families found themselves in familiar postures of mourning.

Last year, Afghan nation left a deadly year behind. As a result, the UN reported that war had caused more than 8,000 civilian casualties, including nearly 2,600 deaths, in the first nine months of 2016.

To consider Syria’s war, approximately 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict that dates back to a 2011 popular uprising against Assad’s regime, according to the UN. In addition, about five million have fled into neighboring countries over the years, while six million remain internally displaced. The UN has described the situation as the “biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time”. Bombings destroyed crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread.

Needless to say, terrorism is a serious threat to the men’s rights and dignity and scores of individuals fall victim to the radical ideology of warring parties – which make no bone about shedding the blood of innocent people or dishonoring them. They pay no heed to national or international laws and sacrifice moral standards and religious tenets for satiating their carnal desire and megalomania. In another item, the terrorist networks resort to war and violence to break the lump in their throats made by deprivations and poverty. Despite religious emphasis on respecting men’s rights and dignity, they trample upon their rights in the worst possible way.

It is believed that nonviolence and nurturing the spirit of brotherhood will build the utopia of human societies. The current dystopia, which is filled with fear and hatred and the blood of men, women, and children, is the result of radicalism and intolerance. In other words, exercising upon the “golden rule” and accepting the individuals as they are, regardless of their accidental backgrounds, will decrease violence and carnage around the globe. After all, the hotbed of radicalism and its supporting factors should be abolished so that the terrorist networks no more find room for their activities.

We have to consider that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Without tolerating one another, peace is not possible and the flagrant violation of human rights and dignity will continue and human societies will always count their fatalities which is a great tragedy for the entire world. Moreover, practicing upon moral values will also alleviate the challenges and decrease and sufferings of mankind.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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