The chilling massacre at Paris restaurants, bars, stadium and other social venues on symbolic Friday the 13th left the world begging for answers to the question: Why kill innocent people who have nothing to do with anything relating to terrorists or terrorism?
According to Colonel Guy Chapdelaine, “Radicalization is one of the alchemies of the human mind, a complex and mysterious process of transformation. Not all extremism leads to violence; it always comes down to individuals, their personal sense of alienation, anger, poverty, ideological commitment, or craving for rebellion against the society that fostered and failed them. There must be a critical magnitude of grievance and alienation that leads to an ideology of violence.”
But the key question remains: Why vent your anger at people who have done nothing to hurt you? The most rudimentary answer is that common masses are not only easy targets, trying to lead their lives with little or no political involvement; they are also the best pawns for terrorists to gain attention by causing mayhem.
It is unfair to blame all Muslims for a handful of extremist radicals. Faith groups can help in opposing radicalization to maintain a spirit of dialogue and rational discussion. There is also a pressing need to address the negative role of internet in spreading radical ideas and influences. One cannot stress enough the growing significance of collaboration between intelligence services and communities in dealing with the problem.
But what happens to victims’ families of the Paris slaughter in the aftermath of the ruthless bloodshed on Friday night revelers? What becomes of the injured and the traumatized witnesses? Will life ever be the same again on the hip and happening streets of Paris? Only time can answer these pivotal questions.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.