US terror warnings: Is it real?

2016-06-06 21:27

The recent unclear warnings by the U.S. government of possible terror attacks by Islamic militants on Americans in South Africa are disingenuous, surprising and disturbing. Do the terrorists know which malls Americans shop at or frequent, is the threat specific? Is South Africa really a target by "Islamic" militants? Who are "Islamic" militants? And why would "Islamic" militants choose Ramadan to attack Americans in South Africa?

The Muslim community in South Africa live and work in harmony and cohesion with other race groups, faith communities and cultures. Moreover, South African Muslims, just like their fellow citizens, also contribute towards nation building, empowerment and poverty alleviation. So, I cannot understand why peace loving, patriotic and practicing Muslims living in South Africa would attack Americans in malls.

Certainly, every effort should be made to subvert and prevent terrorist activities but this must be done responsibly in order not to perpetuate prejudice, Islamophobia and to prevent unnecessary suspicion of innocent people or communities.

Although some analysts believe the US terror alert is manufactured information, nothing new and is simply creating unnecessary public panic, the US embassy should provide more clarity. The lack of information makes it difficult to evaluate how reliable the warning is. A similar vague statement was issued last year.

Irrespective of the trustworthiness of the terror warning and since violent crimes against innocents is on the increase, the relevant South African anti- terrorism authorities should immediately obtain the evidence from the US Embassy in order to put measures in place to prevent such attacks and save lives.

Very often, governments issue warnings regarding a potential terrorist attack without giving the public any credible information, which leaves people without any knowledge of what to expect or do.

These questionable threats actually hurt us in many ways. Not only do they increase panic and fear, but they also waste valuable resources that could be used in fighting real crime and protecting citizens.

Moreover, such allegations can prove to be destructive, particularly in the minds of ordinary South Africans who have little or no knowledge about terrorism and cause unjustified hatred towards Muslims. Calling terrorism ‘Islamic’ undermines the religion’s teachings, values and message, which does not promote occupation, rape, violence and murder. There is no such a thing as “Islamic” terrorism or militants. It is just terrorism and NOT Islamic terrorism.

Although we should be vigilant about terrorist activities, we should refuse to be terrorised by fear- mongers and mischief makers who exploit terrorist attacks to fuel anti- Muslim hostility; think critically, rationally, and be careful of groups or politicians trying to use terrorism to advance a political aim or mission.

The hyperbole about “Islamic terrorism” post September 11 is a metaphor, the more readily we accept it, then the more readily we compromise the principles of liberty, human dignity, human rights, democracy, and rule of law.

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