Now is clear that colonialist and imperialist powers cause, promote and support terrorism. There are new “strategic partnerships” across the globe to deny equality, basic rights, and freedoms to people. That is the reason why Palestinians, Kashmiris, Tamils, Chechens, Muslims in Xinjiang continue to struggle for freedom.
The European Union has been mulling removing Hamas and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) from its “terror list” as its top court took a step toward confirming the removal of Hamas, as well as the Tamil Tigers, from an EU terrorism blacklist despite protestations from Israel and the Sri Lankan government – the real cause for terrorism by accelerating state terror and repressive operations against the respective minorities.
An advocate general at the European Court of Justice, whose advice is usually followed by judges, recommended that they reject an appeal by the Council of EU member states against the lower EU court’s decisions in late 2014 to remove both movements for freedom and human rights from the sanctions list due to flaw procedures.
The EU Council’s appeal also cited the lower court’s failure to accept its argument that the groups’ presence on the US terrorism list justified sanctions. Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston concluded, however, that the EU could not assume that other countries gave those it listed sufficient right of appeal. Her advice, which also said some elements of the appeal were justified, is not binding. But judges’ rulings typically follow closely the recommendations of the advocates general. The ECJ said its justices were beginning their deliberations on the case and there was no set date for a ruling. The General Court did not address whether the groups’ actions merited inclusion on the list of terrorist organisations but ruled the procedures putting them on the list were flawed.
In both cases, judges of the EU’s General Court ruled that EU leaders relied too heavily on media reports rather than their own investigations when they imposed asset freezes and travel bans dating back 15 years on members of Hamas and the LTTE. Both organisations argued that they were engaged in legal wars against Israel and the Sri Lankan government respectively.
Israel offered no immediate comment on the court officer’s advice on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip and has fought Israeli occupational attacks for three decades.
The Sri Lankan government had said in 2014 that it would provide the evidence which the court found lacking to support sanctions against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Israel gets all benefits from European nations and USA by calling the Hamas as terrorists. At the time, Israel, which apparently sells terror goods manufactured in USA and EU, has had fraught relations with the EU in recent years, “rekindled” the old trick of Europeans’ treatment of Jews in the Holocaust and denounced the bloc’s “staggering hypocrisy”.
However, the United States, opposing freedom movement in Palestine and supporting the Israeli fascism and fanaticism with its UN veto, has urged the maintenance of sanctions on Hamas. The assets have since remained frozen pending the appeal.
Hamas was founded in 1987, soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO. Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987 and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from “Israeli occupation” and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, as well as their descendants, to return to what is now Israel although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict Hamas’s military wing has objected to the truce offer Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.
The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, often justifying them as retaliatory, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership. Tactics have included suicide bombings, a tactic which was largely, but not totally abandoned after 2005, —and since 2001, rocket attacks. Hamas’s rocket arsenal, though mainly consisting of short-range homemade Qassam rockets, also includes long-range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa. The attacks on civilians have been condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.
In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a plurality in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank. Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there. In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government. Progress stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014
In 2006, Hamas used an underground cross-border tunnel to capture the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels, which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.
Hamas, its military wing, together with several charities it runs, has been designated by several governments as a terrorist organization. Others regard this designation as problematic. Israel outlawed Hamas in 1989, in 1996 the United States followed suit, as did Canada in 2002. The European Union defined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as terrorist in 2001, and put Hamas in its list of terrorist organizations in 2003 but such designation was successfully challenged by Hamas in the courts in 2014 on technical grounds. The judgment was appealed, but in 2016 a EU legal advisor recommended that Hamas be removed from the list due to procedural errors. The final decision is not thought likely to effect individual government lists
LTTE – a terrorist organization or defender of Tamils?
Any reaction to state crimes, violence or attacks is called terrorism while all terror operations by the states are glorified as heroism. LTTE as an umbrella organization was formed as a shield to protect from “enemy” attacks the lives and interests of Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan regime used the Tamils in tea plantations and elsewhere to increase economic inputs but denied even basic requirements of the Tamil populations. Disparities between Tamils and Singhalese grew wider and conflict became strong. Lately, Tamils were attacked by Singhalese mobs with state backing, leaving conflict in Lankan society. State suppression methods were harsh which led to the demand by Tamils for separate Tamil state in the island. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is the only terrorist group which once possessed its own ‘Military’ – Tigers (infantry), Sea Tigers (sea wing) and Air Tigers (Air Wing), in the world, began its armed campaign in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamil homeland in 1983. Founded in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a secessionist nationalist insurgency to create an independent state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil people. This campaign led to the Sri Lankan Civil War, which ran from 1983 until 2009, when the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan military during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The LTTE was a self-styled national liberation organization with the primary goal of establishing an independent Tamil state. Although it had dabbled with Marxism, Tamil nationalism was the primary focus of its ideology. LTTE was influenced by Indian freedom fighters such as Subhas Chandra Bose.LTTE denied being a separatist movement and saw itself as fighting for self-determination and restoration of sovereignty in what they called their homeland. Despite most Tigers being Hindus, the LTTE was an avowedly secular organization hence religion did not play any significant part in their ideology. The Tiger leader criticized what he saw as the oppressive features of traditional Hindu Tamil society such as the caste system and gender inequality. The LTTE presented itself as a revolutionary movement seeking widespread change within Tamil society rather than only independence from the Sri Lankan state; therefore its ideology included removal of caste discrimination and support for women’s liberation. The Tiger leader also expressed his political philosophy as being “revolutionary socialism” which constituted the creation of an “egalitarian society”
Since people of Tamil Nadu, government and politicians cutting across their political brands supported the cause of LTTE, Indian government also supported and promoted growth and operations.
Due to its military victories, policies, call for national self-determination and constructive Tamil nationalist platform the LTTE was supported by major sections of the Tamil community. Narrow nationalist ideology the LTTE succeeded in atomizing the community. It took away not only the right to oppose but even the right to evaluate, as a community, the course they were taking. This gives a semblance of illusion that the whole society is behind the LTTE. At the height of its power, the LTTE possessed a well-developed militia and carried out many high-profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians. The LTTE was supposedly behind the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993. One is not sure if the organization was used y some world powers to remove these leaders
Historical inter-ethnic imbalances between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations are alleged to have created the background for the origin of the LTTE. Post independent Sri Lankan governments attempted to rectify the disproportionate favoring and empowerment of Tamil minority by the colonial rulers, which led to exclusivist ethnic policies including the ″Sinhala Only Act″ and gave rise to separatist ideologies among many Tamil leaders. By the 1970s, initial non violent political struggle for an independent mono-ethnic Tamil state was used as justification for a violent secessionist insurgency led by the LTTE. Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers frequently exchanged control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan military, with the two sides engaging in intense military confrontations. It was involved in four unsuccessful rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government over the course of the conflict. At its peak in 2000, the LTTE was in control of 76% of the landmass in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.
At the start of the final round of peace talks in 2002, the Tamil Tigers controlled a 15,000 km2 area. After the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tigers, defeating the LTTE militarily and bringing the entire country under its control. Victory over the Tigers was declared by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009, and the LTTE admitted defeat on 17 May 2009.Prabhakaran was killed by government forces on 19 May 2009. Selvarasa Pathmanathan succeeded Prabhakaran as leader of the LTTE, but he was later arrested in Malaysia and handed over to the Sri Lankan government in August 2009.
Meanwhile, former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are increasingly taking to writing to articulate their reflections on the civil war, which came to an end in May 2009. In recent months, books of three ex-combatants of the LTTE have been brought out and by a coincidence, all are women. A few days ago, the 24-year-old Rathika Pathmanathan launched her book, which contains a set of poems and a narrative account, at an event here in the presence of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and leader of the Democratic Front Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Besides the original Tamil work, the Sinhala and English versions were also released. Six months ago, an autobiographical sketch of Subramaniam Sivagami alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, (who died of cancer 10 months ago) was released. It has been rendered into Sinhala and its English version is expected soon. Last month, the work of another ex-combatant was launched in Colombo.
The present political climate has been cited by many as the main reason for this “ literary” trend. ‘Perhaps, critics of the LTTE are encouraging people to come out with their accounts,” says a Tamil writer, who wishes to remain anonymous. V. Thanabalasingham, veteran journalist, says the trend has to be viewed as a reflection of self-criticism. The works also demonstrate that there were members of the LTTE who held views contrary to the position of the LTTE leadership on various issues at different points of time but these persons, bound by discipline of their organisation, had adhered to what the leadership had decided.
S. Sivagurunathan, who did the translation of Rathika’s work, says the regime change, which took place in January 2015, has paved the way for an atmosphere of freedom for people to express contrary views. Pointing out that the Sinhala version of Thamilini’s work has seen seven prints, he says this shows that many sections of the Sinhalese society are keen on knowing what had happened during the civil war. However, he feels that still, there is a substantial number of Sri Lankan Tamils who do not relish criticism of the LTTE or its chief V. Prabhakaran.
Rathika, who was in the LTTE barely for nine months during 2008-2009 after having been forcibly recruited, says she chose to write her experiences while she was undergoing treatment at a Colombo hospital during 2009-2010 for injury in the leg. “I did it as a way of overcoming my pain.” Conceding that her stint with the LTTE was short, she points out that there are many young former combatants who require proper guidance from society and the government. “Otherwise, there is every chance that these youngsters choose the wrong track,” she cautions.
It is indeed a historic decision by the EU to write off both Hamas and LTTE from its terrorist list.
UN has a positive role in this regard. It must ensure that the conditions that led the Hamas and LTTE to choose a path of war with the state terror techniques do not resurface in order to showcase it military prowess against the weak minorities and races.
While Hamas faction of the Palestinians are being terrorized by occupying Israel, the Tamil population in Sri Lanka is being ill treated by majority Singhalese community for which the regime and military-police systems provide full support and Lankan government now led by President Sirisena does not seem to take firm decision to support the needs of Tamils against the will and wish of his own Singhalese community.
It is global shame that colonialist trends still play their devastating role as regional big brother India continues to terrorize Kashmiris after enslaving them on a fake agreement with the former Hindu ruler of a soverign Jammu Kashmir . Indian media deliberately hides the truth about the Jammu Kashmir saying it was a part of India where as the truth is Jammu Kashmir was an independent nation and not an Indian princely state at all and India annexed Jammu Kashmir by fooling the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah with an offer of Premiership of new Kashmir under Indian Constitution. Once the deal is safely through, India- Nehru- withdrew the Premiership from Abdullah saying India cannot have tow Premiers.
That was a betrayal of Kashmiris by all concerned and unconcerned. Now whenever India loses cricket match, it quickly attack Pakistan in order to terrorize Kashmiris. Yesterday, India , by chance, lost the fourth ODI to visiting New Zealand though they are playing as per a game plan and package deal, India ahs arrested a few Pakistani officials in New Delhi on “espionage” charges. Indians –Hindus, who are terribly disillusioned by the unexpected defeat of Indian only “Bharatratna” team, are expected to forget the cricket loss and enjoy as Indian TVs show the Pakistani officals are paraded into North Block. India cannot tolerate if foreign teams defeat India in India and there takes all precautionary steps to see a package deal is struck before the tournament by the Boards and foreign teams do not bring best bowlers to “OUT” Indian batboys.
Post-Pulwama False Flag Operation: Prediction and Reality
Since the nuclearization of South Asia in 1998, the region has become a major component of international security and stability. The recent military escalation and de-escalation of February-March 2019 between the nuclear armed rivals of South Asia i.e. Pakistan and India, more than a month has passed but the world is still concerned about the situation in this volatile region. There is an ongoing debate in Pakistan about the Pulwama attack of 14th February 2019 as a ‘False Flag Operation’ in the realm of hybrid warfare which India has launched against Pakistan. The false flag operations are based on deception with pre-determined outcomes to achieve some political or strategic objective.
India has a history of such false flag operations starting from 1971 till now for achieving the predetermined strategic and political goals (whether successful or unsuccessful). The 2016 Uri attack, the PathanKot Air Base attack, the Mumbai attacks 2008are candid examples of the false flag operations which India has carried out. These operations which are now part of history were aimed to divert international attention from Kashmir issue while blaming Pakistan without any evidence. These operations have remained focused of achieving political goals in elections. The most recent example is the Pulwama suicide attack of February 2019, in which 44personnel of Indian Central Police Reserve Force (CPRF) were killed. The BJP election campaign based on hatred against Pakistan to get popular support whereas the timing of attacks i.e. just two months before the elections make it one of the most controversial false flag operations. Within few minutes after the attack India claimed that about 350 kilograms Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was used. There are above 700,000 Indian troops present in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and most of the times curfew is applicable which makes it impossible for any group to navigate carrying such a huge volume of explosives. As an election stunt the Indian leaders and media blamed Pakistan for backing the attacks without any investigation and evidence.
Pakistan’s ‘appropriate response’ in the after math of February 2019 events is part of history now. On 7th April 2019 Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has predicted that another ‘Pulwama like attack’ in IOK may happen in coming days between 16th to 20th April. India could stage another Pulwama like attack in IOK to justify its military escalation and to increase diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. He further said that Pakistan has authentic intelligence regarding Indian preparations for such attack. In this regard Pakistan has conveyed formally to the diplomatic representatives of the permanent members of UNSC in Islamabad. A meeting of India’s ‘Cabinet Committee on Defence’ was held recently in which Modi gave free hand to the services chiefs to act against Pakistan in upcoming days. The chiefs responded that they have already selected military targets that go beyond Line of Control (LoC).
India under Modi’s leadership is intentionally increasing the war hysteria against Pakistan without realizing the reality that any escalation beyond a certain point a may lead to a first ever nuclear exchange between the two countries. The Pulwama attack was no doubt a false flag operation carried out by India with two politico-military objectives. First, to project the freedom fighting movement in Kashmir as ‘terrorism’ which is at its peak since Modi is in power and second is to gain maximum popular support in context of 2019 elections by spreading hatred against Pakistan. The aftermath of Pulwama has re-assured Pakistan’s Nuclear Deterrence at conventional level and proved it a dominant factor over escalation ladder.
In case of a ‘new false flag operation’ or any February 2019 like escalation from India, Pakistan though lacking in number of conventional forces and weapons will remain with no choice but to respond un-conventionally by using the tactical nuclear weapons i.e. ‘NASR’ and subsequently short and medium range missiles capable of delivering nuclear war heads. The recent military standoff has proved to be a matter of failure for India vis-à-vis the credibility of the claims. The international media as well as the Indian media and opposition parties have questioned Modi’s government for the evidence of targeting militant training camp (killing 350 militants) and proof of Pakistan’s jet plane crashed during 27th February dogfight (claimed by India).According to Foreign Policy Magazine US officials have verified that Pakistan’s F-16 fleet is complete in numbers and not a single jet is missing.
The February 2019 military crisis and its aftermath didn’t prove to be a politico-military success for BJP. Pakistan has proved that it can respond to any Indian aggression appropriately and thus gained a moral and psychological edge over India in the crisis. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has served as a dominating factor against the Indian conventional maneuvers. Pakistan needs to be well prepared against a new false flag Pulwama like operation in coming days realizing the political hype in India. In case of breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty by India in the name of a limited conflict or a surgical strike, this time the response might be a ‘nuclear’ staying below the nuclear threshold.
Is Designating IRGC a Terrorist Organization a Right Decision?
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), otherwise known in Iran as the so-called ‘Islamic’ Revolutionary Guard Corps, is designated as a terrorist organization on Monday (April 8, 2019). What followed is a heated-up debate on broadcast-media across the world as well as on various social-media platforms.
Whether the decision was right and whether it is a sensible one — needs no further consideration. Yet the debate that followed on mainstream broadcast-media and various social-media platforms need to be addressed. For this, a bunch of incidents and happenings that have been taking place in Middle East have to consider along with their connection to IRGC. Syria seems the appropriate conflict zone to start with.
In Syria, a 13-year-old boy’s penis was cut off by the brutal mukhabarat (which is the secret police of Syrian dictator Bashar-al-Assad) in 2011. The boy, named Hamza Al-Khateeb, was returned to his family with his body mutilated. His head was swollen, purple and disfigured, body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. Kneecaps smashed, neck broken, jaw shattered. The most brutal part of the torture was that, as mentioned earlier, his penis was cut off. After a video of his tortured-body was posted on YouTube, thousands of Syrians rallied and chanted “We Are All Hamza!”.
The boy was among hundreds of children and teenagers who faced the same fate in the hands of Assad’s police and army, though it was the boy’s story that attracted more coverage during the time from the mainstream media.
As Iran’s leaders always try to portray themselves as the symbol of moral values against, what the Iranian leaders call, ‘imperialism’, many in Iran and elsewhere expected them to act — or at least speak — for the splayed victims and against the heinous activities of Bashar-al-Assad and his loyalists. Iranian leadership instead chose to side with the longtime ally Assad, who was already named — by the people from his own country, the region and world — as the “Butcher”.
What followed was horror, terror and death. First, Iranian leadership’s military arm, the IRGC, had led the campaign of killing the Sunnis and non-twelver Shias in thousands to depopulate many areas from Sunnis and non-twelver Shias — something which is no less than a genocide.
This fear of being killed for their sectarian identities had compelled a portion of the remaining Sunni and non-twelver Shia population to leave their homeland and seek refuge in other countries (particularly neighbouring countries and Europe) so that they could escape the genocide — something which is no less than an ethnic cleansing.
In Syria, the IRGC had carried out the campaign with the help from Assad’s army and Iran-backed Lebanese militant group named Hezbollah. In Iraq, the IRGC had carried out the campaign with the help of sectarian elements in Iraqi army, Iran-backed twelver-militias in Iraq and Hezbollah.
Everyone with the slightest interest in Middle East affairs is well-informed about the sectarian cleasing that happened in Iraq’s Fallujah with the backing of the Iranian leadership and IRGC. The Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias killed thousands of innocent Sunnis and non-twelver-Shias in the cover of “liberating” the area from ISIS.
All of the above said killing campaigns had been monitored, aided and managed in the ground-zero by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is designated as a ‘terrorist’ organization just the other day.
The IRGC-members themselves had engaged in the killings of innocent Sunnis in these two countries, particularly in Syria. For years, the IRGC has been training the terrorist proxies inside both Iraq and Syria as well as in other regional countries.
IRGC had also helped Bashar-al-Assad to carryout gas/chemical-bomb attacks on innocent civilians in rebel-held areas in Syria. Every mainstream global media had either published articles or broadcasted the footages of the aftermath of these repeated gas/chemical attacks on civilians. The broadcasted-footages clearly show how civilians, especially the children, died from these attacks. The worst part is that these children had to go through enormous sufferings and pain before ultimately losing their lives.
All the atrocities committed directly or indirectly by the IRGC suggests that if it is wrong to designate the IRGC as ‘terrorist’ organization, it would also be wrong to designate any other atrocious group as ‘terrorist’. If it is right to designate any atrocious group (including ISIS) as ‘terrorist’, it should equally be right to designate IRGC as ‘terrorist’.
If one poses the question “What we should call a terrorist?”, the obvious answer would be “a terrorist”, and so is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its leadership.
The Christchurch Shooting and Definitional Problem of Terrorism
On Friday, March 15, 2019, the world was shocked by the news of shooting attack in two different mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people were killed, while thirty-nine others were injured in the shooting and are currently receiving care in hospitals. The attack was unpredicted since it occurred in a relatively peaceful and stable country. After the incident, the suspect, a 28-year-old Australian, Brenton Tarrant, appeared in court with a charge of murder. A debate arises on whether the Christchurch shooting should be categorized as terrorism.
Indeed, defining whether an attack can be categorized as “terrorism” remains a complex task for scholars and counterterrorism agencies. The definition of terrorism is critical since our perception is heavily influenced by how the concept is elaborated. It also affects our communication and responses to the issue which potentially affects states’ politics and social dynamics.
One reason for the lack of clarity is because terrorism is difficult to measure. Unlike conventional war between states, terrorism always shows inconsistent metrics because it exploits the position of weaknesses. Some questions that are frequently asked to define terrorism include: when can violence be justified as an act of terror? How does terrorism distinguish itself from regular assault and other violent or criminal act? Also, how can we differentiate morally culpable terrorists from legitimate insurgents and freedom fighters?
Currently, scholars on terrorism studies have written several definitions of terrorism that emphasize the use of violence, politics, sociology, and psychology. There are common traits that are found in every definition. First, terrorism is defined as an act of “extranormal” violence that generates widespread disproportionate emotional reactions from its audiences such as fear and anxiety that influence their attitude and behavior. Second, the violence is systematic, unpredictable, and usually directed on a symbolic target. Third, the violence conveys political messages and threats to communicate their demands and gain social control.
Based on the definitions above, we can categorize the Christchurch shooting as an act of terror as it adheres to most of the criteria. Some prominent actors even have adopted this term to describe the incident. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, for example, called the shooting as “the worst case of terrorism in the Pacific Islands”, followed by her refusal to mention the perpetrator’s name and proposal to ban semi-automatic weapon in New Zealand. However, this label is not yet adopted by the wider public, since many government officials and media still regard the Christchurch shooting as a mere hate crime.
The semantical difference of the Christchurch shooting perhaps can be traced from two main arguments: First; because there are differences in how terrorism is securitized in every state, what terrorizes a particular population may vary depending on their historical and cultural values. In most societies, the definition of terrorism is still associated with the US’s “War on Terror” after the 9/11, which resulted in affiliation between terrorism and Islamic Extremism. The term “terrorism” was suddenly over-generalized as a product of extreme Islamic ideology; the opposition against the West; and a global multi-faceted threat that should be contained. That is why the idea of “right-wing terrorism” feels strange to most society since it does not fit the description of modern day terrorism.
Second, labeling the Christchurch shooting as terrorism might contradict governments’ effort in securitizing terrorism. The term “terrorism” is generally pejorative and implies a moral judgment which indirectly persuaded others to perceive the labeled party as the common enemy.
For some governments, it is difficult to admit that some of the right-wing terrorism occurred from the backlash of states’ counterterrorism narratives. Individuals might have different interpretations on the subject, and some might understand it as dissension against one particular community—such as what happened in the case of the Christchurch shooting. Expanding the image of terrorism to the very own part of states’ main audience in securitization process, can hurt states’ further efforts in defining the adversaries.
It is apparent that the decision to address the Christchurch shooting as terrorism is very complex, especially because the concept itself is highly subjective, emotionally, and politically driven term where it has a relative meaning to different actors. Nevertheless, looking at recent developments, it is important for us to change how we define terrorism beyond the image of Islamist extremism.
For governments and law enforcers, the outdated understanding leaves them hampered by an inability to define terror acts and criminalize terrorists from outside the Islamist extremist groups. Meanwhile, for the public, redefining the concept of terrorism will help them build a stronger resilience against terrorism narratives and give a more proportional response aftermath a violent attack.
Jacinda Arden’s remarkable response to the Christchurch shooting has shown us that it is possible to label the incident as terrorism. Her actions had created a sense that the Christchurch shooting—and other similar right-wing terrorism—pose an existential threat that requires an emergency measure. By the public’s reaction, it is clear that her response is well received and it could be the first step to redefine the public’s understanding of terrorism.
In the future, we would require more agent of change like Arden, who is able to convey strong narrations and gather a significant number of audiences that accept the designation. Redefining terrorism will not be an easy process, and it should be done with social cohesion, tolerance, and mutual respect. Only after we share the same sense of peril and the need for extraordinary measures, then we can challenge the subjective nature of terrorism.
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