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Friday, 27 November 2009

Mumbai martyrdom: how many more examples of extremism are we to be shocked by?

Today marks the first anniversary of the horrific Mumbai terrorist attack, which saw 166 people killed by Pakistani Islamic militants during a three day siege of two prestigious hotels in the city, the Taj and the Trident. Among those people killed were foreigners from around the globe, including a 29 year old Briton, who has been left paralysed after the attack. Others caught in the attack include visiting westerners, Indian commuters and a Jewish family.
The exact nature of this attack appears cursory on the face of it, but suspects are currently being tried in connection to the events that took place this time last year. High-ranking members of the Pakistani Lashkar e Taiba militant wing have been arrested and put to trial by an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad. This has been viewed as an attempted concession by the Islamabad justice authorities to India, after having suffered yet more from its hostile relationship with particular Pakistani militant organisations.
A man named Hafiz Saeed, considered to be the organisation's spiritual guide, has been accused of orchestrating the attacks on India's economic stronghold, Mumbai, in 2008. Mumbai officially stands as the city with the highest population globally, currently estimated at around 14 million within it. It is also the largest city in South Asia. For such an outrage to occur in such a prosperous Asian city is devasting.
Today the memory of those who were lost over the course of the individual shootings that formed the overall terrorist attack is preserved as ceremonies take place in remembrance, near where the terrorists laid siege to a nation's people.
This most recent attack is not alone in the city's history of offences. Beginning in 1993 with coordinated bomb explosions, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, believed to be conceived in response to the Babri Mosque demolition, which sparked contention between Muslims and Hindus, have continued to recur - 2006 saw horrendous loss of life with the bombing of commuter transport in Mumbai.
The growing unease between India's government and intolerant Muslim protesters and dissidents, as well as clandestine international militant organisations, is of extreme concern to those in power, especially the current administration of the Mumbai conurbation. The fear of future attacks of the same calibre has sparked reaction in displays of strength and fortitude, as alongside memorial ceremonies in the city today there were parades of police and newly funded military defence vehicles. It is quite clear that the message of the militants is getting through to the fearful citizens of India.
And all this topical talk of terrorism begs the question: how long until the fear of attack is lifted? On a global, as well as intuitive train of thought, never. The damning fact of the matter is that as long as there are traditional powers in place, whether religious or secular, there will always be entities that stubbornly oppose them. In the UK, the political collisions between nationalists and those who are pro-Europe may not be violent, but they are there. In African countries like Somalia, corrupt leaders are now being challenged by angry and disillusioned supporters of civil liberties (civil liberties for black citizens that are being withheld by corrupt black politicians). Discontent is ubiquitous. Anger is ubiquitous. Therefore, opposition is ubiquitous.
Nevertheless, as the Indo-Pakistani contention is continually reaffirming itself, we are faced with the inevitable conclusion that differing religious ideals are not, in the perceivable future, going to cease their violent opposition of one another. We've seen it ourselves in the West in the form of the Catholic V Protestant era - countless lives were lost to that aimless cause of control - and still today these wars of faith persist.
To what end will this confusing trend of conflict be met? Nobody is of the authority to tell. Sadly, unlike the peaceful-minded majority, religion for some means no freedom of choice for others.

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