Antagonism should be viewed with as much identical perception of human threat as that of terrorism. It should be labeled with as dark words of condemnation as that of any other social evil. While nations are collaborating against the looming threat of terrorism, the rein of antagonism is let loose to cause maximum psychological damage to the followers of Islam.
The recent history has fallen upon the wrong note of harmony in human conduct and relationship. It has bumped into a blind campaign against terrorism trampling under its feet umpteen cases of human violations. The tragedy further adds to its woes when irrational and typical standard is set for detecting suspects. The tactic is to bully the collective psyche of Muslims and symbolically make them accountable for all uneasy calm.
The conservative mindset adopted by security agencies in zeroing in on the tangible threats often results into display of reckless behavior distrusting even those who could have never encountered the riddle as ‘terrorism’ what to speak of being a part of this horrendous trap.
Apart from a series of high profile detentions in the past, the heat of suspicion is now turned on the common men and women, majority of whom being unfortunately Muslims, testify the full-blown seed of antagonism wrecked against a particular community.
‘Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University doctoral student, arrived at San Francisco International Airport with her 14-year-old daughter for a 9 a.m. flight home to Malaysia. She asked for a wheelchair, having recently had a hysterectomy.
Instead, when a ticket agent found her name on the no-fly list, Ms. Ibrahim was handcuffed, searched and jailed amid a flurry of phone calls involving the local police, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. Two hours after her flight left, Ms. Ibrahim was released without explanation. She flew to Malaysia the next day.
But when she tried to return to the United States, she discovered that her visa had been revoked. And when she complained that she did not belong on a terrorist watch list, the government’s response came a year later in a form letter saying only that her case had been reviewed and that any changes warranted had been made. Every year, thousands of people find themselves caught up in the government’s terrorist screening process. Some are legitimate targets of concern; others are victims of errors in judgment or simple mistaken identity.
Ms. Ibrahim’s case has also raised legal questions about detaining people whose names appear on the no-fly list, and it casts light on the role of private contractors in deciding whether someone should be held. The police in San Francisco said they had acted on the instructions of a contractor working for the Homeland Security Department’.
The above story is not an art of imagination and is not intended to question the very rationale behind the most celebrated, yet most unfounded basis, of slogan ‘war on terror’.
In fact, the predicament has been reported by the most prestigious newspaper of the world The New York Times headlined as ‘Ensnared by Error on Growing U.S. Watch List’ (Published: April 6, 2010).
The report as such is not an isolated example of an individual being booked into prison on mere tip of suspicion and without proper evidence to suggest otherwise. The phenomenon is widespread and has caused immense psychological damage to common Muslims often in the country where they constitute as minority group.
‘Naunehal, his nick name Buddhan, was arrested in one of the states in India known as Assam. His only fault was that he had a long beard with a traditional attire to resemble a typical, devout Muslim. He was arrested and put behind bar for over a year on mere tinge of suspicion making a case of his involvement in some or the other terrorist activities. He had gone to that state in search of livelihood.
Later, on much effort, he was released from the jail nothing vital against him to be proved. The incident left him totally shattered. The trauma he experienced is indelible. He often questions what it is and why it is. The identity is under complete scrutiny’.
This instance was reported by The Milli Gazette, 1-15 February 2002, Vol. 3 No. 3 published from New Delhi.
Such incidents trigger in mind the existing loopholes within the system and testify the temper of unfairness and discrimination deliberately triggered at a particular community.
However, they are just tips of the iceberg. Innumerable cases of harassment and interrogation go unreported and many end their lives in prison for years with no legal access to justice.
The civilized world that holds democratic ideals in high esteem, claims to practice secular values, sings the songs of tolerance and drums the trumpet of freedom has failed miserably to address the emerging challenge of ‘antagonism’ which has callously caused immense pain to the Muslim community.
The distrust and misapprehension against a particularly dressed or religious person representing a community is not only an irrational show of greater degree of intolerance but also of vices wrapped in modern civilized axiom. The compassionate heart of contemporary civilization cannot be judged by looking at its liberal face of democratic management. There lies a deep prejudice behind all that glitter of progressive ideals and principles. William Shakespeare aptly summed up such traits of human conduct in the following words: ‘There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’.
The security agencies or the protectors of law should realize that the mastermind of terror campaign does not reside in a dress or hide in spiritual garb of a particular faith, and also committed terrorist never chooses a conventional path to attain his objectives. Then to what extent undue harassment of individuals is justifiable? Such an attitude is not only self-destructive but also implies the mindset of global conservative outlook.