At root of terror is social injustice

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am
 

Osama bin Laden's death has dominated the news for the past few weeks. The mass celebrations quickly filled me with scepticism at how the death of one person can have such a profound impact on the world.

But let's be clear. The world is a better place without bin Laden, mass murderer and hide-and-seek champion. The terrorist mastermind had claimed responsibility for the killing of thousands of civilians and, because of that, he is a monster.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. The swift burial at sea means his body is irretrievable, fuelling conspiracy theories he is not dead. Perhaps bin Laden was killed by the MI6? It could well be a British plot designed to keep the press preoccupied so William and Kate could have a peaceful honeymoon.

Jokes aside, the death raises serious issues. There is a lot of problems that bin Laden represented: the war in Afghanistan, terrorism, Islamophobia. Yet his death does not mean these problems will disappear.

Take Egypt, for example. Though Hosni Mubarak has been ousted, the corruption and economic chaos that Egyptians fought against are still there. The key player is gone, but the trouble is that the system has deteriorated over decades of corruption and oppression.

With bin Laden dead, the world must still deal with terrorism and, in particular, its causes. Why do men who think violence is the solution attract so many followers?

Terrorism is the result of political, economic and social factors. In nations that exclude the public from taking part in governance, people are more likely to turn to unlawful ways to get their point across.

Poverty and desperation make it easier to recruit for a cause that promises salvation. Men who advocate fighting social injustice will draw plenty of eager supporters.

But the killing of any human, even the worst imaginable, is no cause for rejoicing. Martin Luther King said: 'I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.'

Unless we go beyond cowboy diplomacy and nationalistic flag-waving, and until the causes of terror are tackled properly, all that has been achieved is the destruction of a fang. The threat is still very much 'alive'.

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