Give the Muslim youth a reason to live
THE RECENT spate of random suicide attacks in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world perpetrated by mostly young Muslims cannot be confronted by the usual drones and bombings intended ostensibly to decimate the ranks of these young people who have latched on to an organization sympathizing and articulating their own anger and frustration, the Islamic State.
Ratcheting up the budget for intelligence and buying more sophisticated tracking equipment may not prevent these random acts of violence dedicated to “soft” targets like airports, train stations, malls and other places where people congregate, for maximum effect.
The funds for these may be better directed at providing the social infrastructure for these young people to study, to dream to be engineers, architects or doctors like the rest of the youth around the world.
These young people are born into oppression… It is as if the oppression were congenital because they are born in refugee camps, or in places where unemployment is rank and drug addiction pervasive, and where crime is an everyday event.
Where is the future for these young people?
How can they dream of becoming any other than the victims of oppression, of illegal occupation, of all sorts of inhuman experience, as they conduct their daily lives?
Early in life, the young Muslims understand that they are “The Other” from which the dominant majority withholds the privileges and rights fully enjoyed by it. The social distance between the dominant group and the less numerous groups is becoming wider and wider. The level of inequality all over the world is increasing as the have-nots outnumber the haves in large measure.
A high level of ethnocentrism is sweeping the whole of Europe where extreme rightist parties which used to be in the margins are now moving mainstream as they conveniently use the migrants, the refugees, as the main source of their social problems. One head of state of the 28-member European Union even repeatedly stressed that his country “…cannot accept the Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the region because they may dilute the Christian faith” of his countrymen.
Concertina wires, electrified fences, actual bricks and mortars have been built to prevent the entry of refugees, which merely reinforces the divides in the minds of European citizens who style themselves as the epitome of human rights.
And why are these people moving and uprooting themselves from their places of abode and their places of work?
There is a long enumeration to answer this fundamental question. But I am sure among the examples that immediately come to mind is the unwarranted invasion of one country supposedly for harboring chemical weapons of mass destruction (which chemicals were sold to it by the same countries that have so accused it). It is well documented that Western countries and others have closed their eyes to authoritarian regimes which have deprived citizenries of basic human rights and taken away their political and civil rights, only because they were located in geographies where natural resources are available to fuel the continued improvement of the lives of the citizens of the Western world.
But whoever said life was fair?
But now, those who have brought about the continued marginalization, the utter lack of opportunities to succeed, the continued deprivation of the right to a decent life of the mostly Muslim youth, are reaping the products of their shortsighted policies.
Drones and bombs will not make the IS go away. Increased budgets for intelligence and equipment to counter terrorism will not stop the radicalization of the youth.
What is to be done?
What is to be done is for all of us to give the youth—the Muslim youth, particularly—a reason to live.
Clarita R. Carlos, PhD, is a retired professor of political science at the University of the Philippines and a former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines.
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