Extremism is an Abberation
By: Maryam Jilani
You are badly beaten thereby resulting in a devastating state. Then, somehow, you managed to make your way to a roof and hid, but unfortunately, they found you there too. You are forced to come downstairs, and your clothes are being torn apart. They are not done here, but go ahead to burn you alive on the road. You are screaming your lungs out asking for help; yet, nobody comes forward to stop them. Videos and photos are being made as you burn to ashes. You never imagined your end this way but this is it – your end.
You are Priyantha Kumara (real name was Diyawadanage Priyantha) – a Sri Lankan, a Buddhist, and a manager at the Rajco Industries factory. Your crime was that one day while cleaning up the place alongside your supervisor, you removed a poster with Islamic writings; as it was in the local language you were unable to decipher what it was or what it meant. On December 3, 2021, in Sialkot you were killed on the charges of blasphemy by a mob who kept chanting the slogan of the party; Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan, a far-right Islamic extremist movement.
“I can’t breathe…Please I can’t breathe” these were the last words of George Floyd, 46, a resident of St. Louis Park, Minn. On 25 May 2020, he died during his arrest for being suspected of forgery by four police officers, one of whom kept his knee on his neck for several minutes and pinned him to the ground, choking him out.“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” the city’s mayor reacted, as the video of this whole treatment went viral.
Imagine waking up one morning to see yourself on an app named Bulli Bai. The heading reads “for sale as maids”.How would you feel? How would you react? This is what happened to about 100 Muslim women in India among them some prominent activists and journalists. On 1st January 2022, they were auctioned online without their consent which was of course an obvious endeavor to undermine the confidence and humiliate the distinguished Muslim women in India.
It happened so in India which has about 200 million strong Muslim communities, that on the last day of 2021 an explicitly Islamophobic ad ran on a national daily funded by the government of Uttar Pradesh. Also a few weeks earlier there was an open call for the genocide of Muslims by several far-right-led hindu leaders.
This one word “Extremism” paves the way to many terms such as terrorism, genocide, target killings, cyberbullying, forceful conversions, violence, etc; all these terms are entirely the mediums through which extremism is showcased in diversified regions . Extremism is defined as holding extreme religious or political views. The few examples given above are so tiny; merely a glimpse of what extremism is, and what it does to people all around the world. That it’s not restricted within certain boundaries or that its victims are somehow not always a specific group. On the contrary, this phenomenon of extremism is widespread and mobile all around the globe and its victims vary depending upon the dynamics of a certain territory.
With each day bringing about changes in how the world is seen and perceived; changes are being brought about in how extremism is demonstrated and amplified too. However, nobody can negate that extremism exists, in its unique shape and form it does exist; creating ripples in the society vicious enough to swallow it whole.
With the development of information technology, artificial intelligence, and electronic media the world has become increasingly complex, and the ease to proliferate extremism through hate speech, false information, and social media has grown wildly.
We as humans should not forget how we have evolved throughout time, how once our ancestors were a bunch of wanderers moving from one place to another. How once the only necessity was food and shelter; they would have torn down their fellow just for some berries or goat. The time however has changed and so has the world, it is no longer a jungle but rather a zoo precisely. We have accomplished ourselves as a developed specie. Throughout time we’ve understood that our chances of survival were better if we stay in groups; that living together gives a guarantee of security and sustainability.
Races, religions, ideologies, and nationalities; all could differ but aren’t we all the same? Aren’t we all flesh and blood, but also at the same time aren’t we so much beyond that? Would it be wise if we torture or kill our fellow beings; our own specie?
The tool of extremism through which we behave ever so furiously and eliminate the peaceful existence of our mates, isn’t the same tool simultaneously digging up the graves of our children too? When we forcefully convert, aren’t we acting like God too?
It is estimated that about 1000 girls are forcefully converted to Islam each year in Pakistan whereas in India between 2014-2016; 389 cases were registered of missing Muslim girls, purposedly kidnapped for forceful conversions.
In 2016 due to Donald Trump’s hateful and racist speech, domestic terrorism doubled compared to that in Obama’s administration. In 2019 Mexico recorded about 1006 cases of femicide; a 10% increase from the last year.
All these are not just digits but indicators that we are going in the wrong way, that we have lost our right direction. We have worked vigorously to shape the world as it is today, we cannot burn it down with our own hands. Today we need peace and harmony as essentially as we need air to breathe. Extremism is an aberration; it is not what should exist or grow but something which should be eradicated. There are far more serious challenges such as climate change, corruption, humanitarian crisis, etc which should be addressed and dealt with. Therefore, it’s high time we learn tolerance and coexistence because it’s the only way to live in the global village we created ourselves. Live and let live.