I Cried Against Terrorism, Only in Foreign Lands
Newspaper Column

I Cried Against Terrorism, Only in Foreign Lands


By M. Babajide-Alabi

The world has been sympathising with the people of France, who happen to be victims of terrorism one more time. Particularly the Parisians who last week witnessed another terrorists attack. The outpouring of grief and sorrow has been very infectious from one end of the world to another. And in the same vein, the condemnation of this unnecessary attack has been universal with no sympathy for religion or race.

It was a sad news from the beautiful city of Paris as it was “confronted” by heartless terrorists parading themselves as modern day religious jihadists. The attack, masterminded by youngsters, was inspired by the infamous ISIS. These were some of the senseless individuals that had been hoodwinked by ISIS propaganda. They had allows these to rule their heads and pushed into action. No doubt they were brainwashed that slaughtering innocent people is fighting a holy war, a jihad. They would have seen beyond the killings to receive their “rewards in heaven.”

Unfortunately, the French security agencies were all beating hands down, despite reports of their awareness that something terrible  was about to go down in Paris. According to news stories , all the terrorists involved in the attack were known to the agencies.

November 13, 2015 shall go down in the history of the country as a day of sorrow. It was a day the terrorists turned the streets of the French capital into a river of blood. It has been described as the most cruel attack in recent times on innocent people.

The “make up” of the victims was not any different from other attacks witnessed all over the world – they were simply at the wrong places. They were innocents people who had been going about their businesses with no inkling of the evil thoughts of fellow human beings that walk alongside of them. Many of these victims would have laid out their plans for a “tomorrow”. Unfortunately for them their tomorrow ended before it even began. They fell to hails of gun shots, detonated bombs etc from cowardly people who had only one mission – to kill as many as they could.

As the blood of these innocent Parisians “flowed” freely through the streets, it once again brought to reality that terrorism can be as near as on our door steps or in far away places like Boston. It can be as close as the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Or a little far away in Mali where al Qaeda trained terrorists held innocent guests and workers as hostages and killed over twenty.

The attendant shock after the Paris attack was of the same scale with the Al Qaeada inspired 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. This is understandable considering the fact that the city of Paris was witnessing the second major attack in a year.  The first being the attack by brothers Cherifb and Said Kouachi on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly newspaper.

The import of this was not lost on world leaders as they had to push aside their differences to discuss how to defeat the evil that seem to be taking over the world. What a better place to do this than at the G20 meeting held immediately after the Paris attack. It was not surprising when the US President, Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were caught on camera  seemingly working out strategies to defeat the terrorists before they turn the world into an arena of carnage.

Drawn against the recent attack on a  Russian plane in the Egyptian airspace, the leaders have to move very fast. It is noteworthy that as the “jigsaw” of the Egypt plane crash was being worked out, the Paris attack came as a diversion. The Egyptian officials confirmed what the world already knew that the aircraft was “bombed” out of the airspace.

However, while the world was outraged at these dastardly acts, a few Nigerians “formed” themselves into a “pressure group” to condemn their fellow citizens for sympathising with the world. In no measured terms they have termed every citizen that raised voices against the Paris attack as “ignorant and hypocritical.”

A friend of mine rang me a few days after the attack and was surprised at the way and manner these Nigerians, who he described as heartless have criticised the show of solidarity. Up until his call, I did not place more than a fleeting interest in the comments. However after reading some of them in the course of the week, I still could not  understand my friend’s anger. It might sound inhuman when these Nigerians  felt we should not have “cried with the world” when it was bleeding. The arguments put forward against this may seem very unsympathetic, but a closer examination shows they do have valid points.

The verdict was simple. Nigerians love keeping up with Joneses. They would rather “weep” in the open for a cause so they can come across as being “in the know” than express their innermost feelings. A few days after the attack, the social media company, Facebook, allowed users to update their profile pictures with a light veil of the French flag. As with many other “raves”, Nigerians got on it in large numbers.

This brought out the condemnation of a few Nigerians. They questioned the sincerity of these Nigerians that had chosen the Facebook update as the golden rule. Thy were outraged at this compatriots who had all kept quiet to the daily massacre of innocent citizens by Boko Haram. To them, it is interesting to note that despite Boko Haram described as the deadliest terror groups in the world, according to a report by the Institute of Economics & Peace, Nigerians are still aloof to its activities.

Despite all the killings and massacres that are carried out by the group in recent times, Nigerians have not at any time turned out in a show of solidarity for the victims. The closest we had ever gone was with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

At the start of the Boko Haram  killings, rather than call for prayers as we are all doing for France now, we were busy, at that time, trying to convince the world that the former administration of Goodluck Jonathan had a hand in the operations of Boko Haram.

We may ask that at what point do these Nigerians realise that there is power (and succour) in prayers? When religious leaders pleaded for peace in Nigeria and a suggestion of collective will to fight Boko Haram, we all condemned them as government sympathisers. All of a sudden now we  realised, after the French attack, that terrorism is better fought in unity.

It is unfortunate that rather come together, we politicised terrorism in Nigeria. The two leading political parties have been accusing each other of being the sponsors of Boko Haram. For Boko Haram, we were all singing different tunes, pointing fingers in every direction, while the group grew in confidence. The international community was confused at our “outrage” at Goodluck Jonathan rather than sitting down to find a solution to the problem on hand.

Has it now taken the Paris attack for us to come to our senses and fight terrorism? Can we “push” Facebook to honour the victims of all Boko Haram massacres like it did for France? Is it too late to show Boko Haram that we are united and ready to fight them head on, like some of us threatened the Paris attackers?

It is only when we do these that we can show the rest of the world that our cries for the victims of the French attack were borne out of genuine love for humanity. Nobody should die needlessly in the hands of these terrorists. But it takes the genuine interest and support of the people to defeat the hydra headed problem.

In conclusion, are our security agencies watching events in Mali? They should step up their intelligence “powers” because they need no telling that Boko Haram may borrow a page from what happened in Bamako over the weekend. Will our officers be able to counter it or nip it in the bud?

Published in the Sunday Vanguard November 22nd 2015. CLICK HERE

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I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.