Opinion / OP Rana

Terrorism has a new name: cowardice

By OP Rana (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-23 08:16

Books! They are the most dangerous weapons. The written word is knowledge; the written word is power, whichever way you look at it. And it is this written word that the world loves and, at the same time, is afraid of. For children, words open a world of imagination that brings with it knowledge and perception. For corporations, words are a tool to earn profits. For politicians and religious leaders - the straight and the crooked both - they are the source of power, used as they are to win support for causes both good and bad.

It is this fear of words, used against their wishes to spread the knowledge of humanity and love, which drives extremists to target innocent souls. And it is this fear of words that prompted the Pakistani Taliban to storm a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec 16 and massacre 132 children and nine others.

Children, innocent souls too young to fathom the wicked ways of the world, have become easy targets of religious extremists across the world - from Nigeria to Norway, from the Middle East to Pakistan and India.

Soft targets. That is the new strategy to win a war, be it the "war on terror" or the "war on infidels". And unfortunately, children are the softest of targets. The seven extremists who mercilessly hunted and gunned down the children in the Peshawar army-run school knew that their targets had nothing to do with the way the world functions, the politics and ideologies that make it function, or the clash between religions and religious sects. They knew, because their leaders claimed that they targeted the school for a specific reason. As Pakistani Taliban's Muhammad Khorasani said: "We selected the army school because the government is targeting our families and females. We want them to feel the (same) pain."

Behind all this is again the written word. Remember Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader and head of Afghanistan state from 1996 to 2001? Last year, he issued a rare statement saying youths should "arm themselves with religious and modern education because modern education is a fundamental need of every society". But his "modern education" has no place for Western education, of course, with the exception of weapons manufacturing and perhaps information technology.

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