Suicide Bombings are not political in nature
In a large Suffi shrine in Southern Pakistan, two young men with explosives strapped on their backs navigate nervously through a packed crowd. They are looking for an ideal place to murder as many of their fellow human beings as possible. The plan is surprisingly evil: the second boy is there to detonate himself the moment help arrives to care for the victims of the first attack.
As chance would have it, Umar Fidai‘s bomb didn’t discharge properly. It ended up only partially detonating, ripping away his left arm and tearing his insides apart. Before Umar could reach his grenade – a fail-safe given to suicide bombers allowing them a chance to still enter a martyr’s paradise – he was shot in the other arm by a police officer. Bleeding, incapacitated and watching the torment and pain of those around him, Umar felt shame and remorse at the sight of the medics and civilians rushing to their aid. Mere minutes before, all he could think about was the taste of the otherworldly fruits he would enjoy from such pious labor.
Young Umar is only 14 years old. What motivated him to commit his failed violent act was not political. It was religious. As I read his recollection of the events that led to his mangled state, I couldn’t help but feel that the seeds of his destruction, and of so many other victims, were planted long ago. The soil was fertile from a lifetime of indoctrination to dangerous and poisonous ideas. Umar’s targets were fellow Muslims, part of a different traditional set of doctrinal convictions, and therefore unbelievers. To the Taliban, the nearly endless supplies of human explosives – packed tight with anger, confusion, alienation, and ready to ignite with the mixture of religion- makes their task effortlessly easy. They need only light the wick and point.
You’ll often hear Muslim apologists refer to the problem of suicide bombing in political rather than religious terms. They do this to mask the terrifying reality of religious indoctrination, either deliberately or unknowingly. We ask why humans continue to commit atrocities – why we kill each other with impunity and cause untold misery and destruction – yet we refuse to accept the simple answer. It is unquestionably religion that creates the systemic barbarism, cruelty and ignorance of the world we live in. We have ample evidence of this. That it makes some happy is inconsequential. It should not enter into our minds as something worthy of consideration. Should you care if a drunkard is admittedly happier when he drinks if he later beats his wife and children as a result?
If you still cling to the notion of geopolitics as the root of the problem, why not ask the villains themselves? The very words of acolytes, saved from their own annihilation due to faulty mechanics, is a chilling wake-up call to apologists. It was their conviction paradise awaited them, not their political desires that motivated their actions. Until we stop denying the obvious, it’ll keep blowing up in our faces.
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