World Trade Center - September 11th 2001

Take it or leave it, terrorism is a religious global threat to humanity, irrespective of race and nationality.

Reportedly, Uganda is the latest (and so far the 33rd) country to get hit by terrorists, that’s if indeed the 7/11 Kampala bombings were carried out by the Al-Shabaab – an Islamist militant group – that expressed delight and claimed responsibility saying it’s a message to the Ugandan government to withdraw its troops from Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomb blasts killed at least 76 people and injured many others that were at Kyadondo rugby ground and the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, on the unfortunate night when virtually everyone’s attention was on the 2010 World Cup final match between Spain and Netherlands or Paul the octopus!

Now the country is on a high security alert because the Al-Shabaab threatened to carry on with more attacks on Kampala and Bujumbura (Burundi) if thePresident Museveni respective governments do not heed the message. Understandably, in the wake of the attack, Uganda’s President Gen.Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took time off his countrywide assessment tour of the Prosperity-For-All program in Ntungamo district and convened an emergence press conference to address the country on the security threat. Predictably, being the soldier he is (‘once a soldier, always a soldier’), Museveni vowed to deal with (“crush”) the Al-Shabaab in the biblical Moses’ an-eye-for-an-eye style by deploying more 20,000 troops in addition to the ones already in Somalia.

While addressing the AU summit in Kampala, Museveni again urged his fellow African leaders to join hands in getting rid of terrorists in Somalia and Africa, and so they agreed to deploy more 2000 troops. At the risk of sounding unpatriotically cynical, the war against terrorism is a tricky one that I reasonably doubt can be defeated through conventional warfare, especially in Africa. The USA, with all its military might and resources, tried this approach and failed, though they can’t admit it. That poor Africa may succeed with the same costly approach is simply unrealistic. Question is, Which approach or counterterrorism idea is more effective than an-eye-for-an-eye?

Well, to get a solution to a problem, one ought to understand its cause. And, let’s face it; blind belief/faith is the root and breeding ground of terrorism, of which Africa is pretty vulnerable with plenty of potential terrorists (a.k.a conservative believers).

Because, according to the holy scriptures (both the Bible and Qur’an), a true believer in the supernatural Almighty ‘God’ of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will do whatever it takes, including (and not limited to) killing or dying to appease God or prove his/her strong belief in Him (Yahweh or Allah), like Abraham ("the great grandfather of all believers") who was willing to sacrifice his own son; after all he/she would be abundantly rewarded for it in the hereafter (heaven). That explains a lot about the terrorists’ spirit and actions such as suicide bombings. So terrorists believe they’re fighting a holy war (jihad) in the name of ‘God’, the ‘God’ of Abraham or Ibrahim of the Bible and Qur’an!

It’s such shared and unquestioned beliefs that sustain evils like terrorism because terrorists use them to recruit other gullible believers, and Africa is full of believers of the kind.

Unfortunately, religion enjoys worldwide untouchable privilege or "undeserved respect" as Richard Dawkins calls it in his conscious-raising (indeed!) book ‘The God Delusion. An extract of the brilliant late Douglas Adam’s impromptu speech at Cambridge puts it well:

“Religion… has certain ideas at the heart of which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’…Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other,”

…that’s what makes terrorism even more tricky!

Otherwise, in a nutshell, since prevention is better than cure, the most viable approach for curbing terrorism would be ensuring safety of the citizenry through security alert measures and mass sensitization against the deadly blind faith or beliefs that encourage it. That is, religion should be subjected to questioning so as to curb possible recruitment of the ignorant or gullible and vulnerable believers; for all we know, the Al-Shabaabs and Al-Qaeda may have already recruited many Ugandans and Africans.

Hassan Higenyi

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