This is a guest post from my friend Leo Igwe, the Nigerian humanist who has done so much to combat witch hunts in Northern Africa. But he has lived in Germany for the last several years and this is his take on the attack on a Christmas market in that country.
Terror in Europe: Worries and Fears
By Leo Igwe
For over five years I have been living in Europe, and I have never at any time been as worried as I am right now for humankind. I have never had any reason to be more apprehensive or more disturbed about the future than I am today, at this very moment. This is because the trend of events seems to be whittling away hope for a better and brighter future for humanity. The recent spate of attacks, killings and bloodshed in Zurich,Ankara and Berlin in recent days worries me immeasurably.
These attacks disturb me because they portend a dismal future for humanity. These assaults play into the hands of right-wing politicians and other racist and xenophobic ideologues in Europe and the western world. The killings provide justifications for their anti-immigration stance.
These attacks breed and legitimize fear, suspicion and mistrust between people who regard these cities and countries as their home and foreigners and immigrants who live and reside there. These killings make one fear for one’s safety since nobody knows where the next attack would take place. Will it happen on the plane or the train, in a bus or in a park, at the airport or at the train station, at the market or at the stadium, in a restaurant or in a nightclub, in a church or in a mosque?
Nobody knows who the next attacker is – is it that driver or that pilot? Is it that police officer standing beside me or that passerby? Is it the co-passenger or co-traveler in a bus? Is it the person sitting beside me in train or in an aeroplane? Nobody knows who the next victim would be. It could be me. It could be you. We all are potential victims. I am worried because there is so much fear and uncertainty in the land. Nobody is safe. Nowhere is safe.
I am afraid the situation is likely to get worse especially for immigrants and foreigners because these countries and their citizens are going to take urgent measures to defend and protect themselves, and to forestall future attacks. I am worried that these measures would be used to justify racism and xenophobia because people will be made to go through some processes merely because of how they look or where they come from, and yes because of the religion they profess.
Now think about the fact that these assaults and killings were often followed by shouts and yellings of “Allahu” Akbar, an expression in Arabic which means “God is great”. Not any other religious god but the god of Islam.
The attackers in France, Belgium and Turkey shouted Allahu Akbar during or after their operations. That was apparently a statement that what they did was in praise of Allah. I am afraid that the yelling of Allahu Akbar has lost its ‘religious prayerful meaning’. It has become as a jihadist war song, a rallying cry to commit murder and violence.
I am concerned that any yelling of Allahu Akbar today in parts of Europe will lead to some security operations. People are likely to scamper for safety and take cover if they are in public squares because they would be expecting a gunshot or a bomb explosion. Police may have be to be invited to carry out a search for explosives. Yellers of Allahu Akbar may have to be questioned in case they belong to any jihadist group or are intending to perpetrate violent acts. I worry because Allahu Akbar has become an insignia for bloodshed in Europe and in other parts of the world.I worry, yes I worry for the future of humanity and the prospects of peace in the world.