by Nayyar Ahmed
Social unrest is now the narrative of the day, a new ‘order’ that extremists are dictating for the world to follow. As we ease into our holiday season, the Grinch is always lurking around the corner, ever ready to pounce at us with a rude surprise. The truck attack in Berlin and the cold-blooded assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov and the ensuing grotesque images of the assassin standing next to the body are such examples. I, as an Ahmadi Muslim, condemn these grossly brutal acts of violence.
If we take for instance the Turkish Assassin Mevlut Mert Altintas, in retrospect, he was known by people of his hometown as a calm individual, never showing any signs of rage or unusual behavior. He served as a riot police officer for a couple of years and was even regarded “agile” by one of the local newspapers of Ankara. However on the 19th of December 2016, his action put a dent on the character of many Muslims, leaving them in a tight spot. Does this simply means that we cannot be trusted?
What prompted him to act irrationally? What is propelling this ideology of hate and division? Must we blame religion for the actions of a few lone wolves?
Many critics of Islam grossly understate and discredit its peaceful teachings. The Quran for example describes Prophet Muhammad as a mercy for all of mankind, making no distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. A common practice among terrorists, similar to Islamophobes, is cherry-picking and misinterpreting verses of the Holy Quran, placing them out of context. By this deliberate act of polluting the teachings it is easy to manipulate young impressionable minds like Mevlut. For example the word “Jihad” is now synonymously used with “holy war” which is completely wrong. The correct translation of the word “Jihad” is “struggle”. This struggle is precisely explained by the supreme head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who says,
“Our Jihad is not a Jihad of swords, guns or bombs. Our Jihad is not a Jihad of cruelty, brutality and injustice. Rather, our Jihad is of love, mercy and compassion. Our Jihad is of tolerance, justice and human sympathy. Our Jihad is to fulfill the rights of God Almighty and of His Creation”.
Additionally, a careful analysis of Mevluts rants about Aleppo and Syria in the aftermath of the shooting clearly indicates that his intent to kill the ambassador was a direct result of the Syrian conflict. This is a political ideology, a political war that has ravaged the Middle East; one that has no links to Islam, let alone Muhammad or the Quran. In fact, the Quran commands Muslims to not create disorder once order has been established (Quran 28:78). Also, the unjust killing of a life is declared so wrong and so sinful in the eyes of Islam that it has been likened to the killing of all mankind (Quran 5:33), a true phenomenon in modern times where a localized incident is amplified through an intricate system of social media, creating a worldwide butterfly effect.
Another critical angle to consider is that Mevlut, and many others like him, have hallmarks of a sociopath. One trait of a sociopath is that s/he is very clever at hiding their true feelings and can lie through any situation until the climax. That’s when Mevlut shot the ambassador point blank, and stood over his body in an act of defiance. What was even more chilling are the photos right before the shooting where Mevlut stood calm and collected in the background with no signs of fear, remorse or even the slightest agitation. One can even argue that he may be a borderline psychopath or maniac, harboring a diminished sense of reality, where other people would fail to execute such an act of terror.
The reader must also understand that by referring to the killer as a sociopath, one does not absolve the terrorist from taking responsibility or that all members of ISIS or any terrorist organizations are psychopaths and must not be charged or prosecuted in accordance with terrorist acts and laws, but that people who are delusional of the highest order can work their way up in the hierarchy of such criminal organizations, only by partaking of their underlying mental conditions.
To conclude, this assassination has also struck a discord among world powers like Turkey and Russia, bringing the human race closer to a full-fledge global conflict. We can only hope and pray that both Russians and Turks will learn from history and avoid what leaders of the past were unable to do and see this act as a work of a lone wolf. After all, who in Sarajevo on the morning of June 1914 knew that Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be assassinated by a young Bosnian, which would lead to a chain of events and in few weeks World War I would break out.