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By Morakinyo Babajide-Alabi
The events of yesterday in Berlin, Germany and Ankara in Turkey has once again brought to our consciousness the reality of terror all over the world. The world was woken up to the dastardly acts of two seemingly demented individuals.
In Ankara, a 22-year old off duty riot policeman, Mevlut Mert Altıntas took the law into his hands and decided to assassinate in cold blood the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey G. Karlov. In what seemed like a scene from an Hollywood movie, this individual mounted the stage at a Turkish Art Exhibition and shot the Ambassador seven times from the back at close range. There was no mistaking the fact that he was on a mission – a mission to take the life of this gentleman whose only sin was representing his native country in this foreign land.
In a brazen manner, the shooter stood right there on the stage, shouting, according to local news sources, “Allahu Akbar”, and “Don’t forget Aleppo”. In a perfectly captured moment on video, he pointed the handgun dangerously at the crowd in the hall while the Ambassador laid lifeless a few metres away from him. It was announced he was “neutralised” by Turkish security forces (this was interpreted as “killed”).
While the world was concerned about the plight of Syrians in Aleppo, this crazy individual thought it was in his place to single handedly “fight the fight” of freedom. The Russian Ambassador was an easy pick for him as the representative of a country that is widely touted as supporting the repressive regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. It is generally believed that the Russian government is the backbone of Al-Assad and has helped him so far in staying put in power, despite rebellious incursions into every area of Syria.
Aleppo has been in the news for the past 3 or more years since the rebellion in the country started. The city that was once the economic capital of a peaceful country has been turned into ruins, as the rebels and forces loyal to the Al-Assad regime have continuously used the city as the battle ground in a bid to gain control. The majority of the city had been in the control of the rebels until recently when the supply line was closed off by Syrian troops. After weeks of continuous bombing and artillery fire on the city by forces loyal to the Assad government, supported by the Russian government, the rebels lost their grip.
In short, Aleppo has become the defining face of the war in Syria as the city lay in ruins and world leaders are accused of turning deaf ears to the cries of the inhabitants of the city. Particularly, the European Union and the United Nations have both been accused of playing ostrich on the situation in Aleppo.
While one cannot justify the reasons for the killer’s actions, it is obvious he thought he was trying to bring attention to the plight of people in Aleppo. However, he, like most deranged terrorists have failed to realise that it takes more than isolated killings and attacks on innocent individuals to effect changes.
Just across another European city in Berlin, Germany, a 23-year old man of Pakistani origin, Navid B. took to the wheel of a truck to cause maximum damage at a Christmas market. The after effect of this is the death of 12 innocent people and 48 with various degrees of wounds arising from the attack.
The German police has stated that it is treating this wayward driver’s action as potential terror attack. The authorities have confirmed that the arrested driver arrived the country as a refugee last year. On this, the Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be particularly sickening if it is confirmed the attacker was indeed a refugee.
We can sympathise with the chancellor for refusing to accept the “reality” of “the person” of the attacker. It is natural for her to be disappointed that this is a fall out of her asylum-friendly policies in Germany. According to News Agencies, the suspect was said to have been issued with a temporary right to stay in June of this year. This is another knock on the humanitarian effort of the chancellor. And this is a fact that her opponents will capitalise on. We can recall that it was Merkel that stood up for the thousands of refugees when other European and world leaders turned their backs on them not too long ago.
Unfortunately for Merkel, she could not read the intentions of all people she let into her country. And among the rotten ones came this individual. There was no doubt that his aim was to cause maximum damage in a market renowned to be very active at this time of the year. The German Christmas markets are popular around the world and are frequented by people seeking fun or bargains in the run down to Christmas. It is unfortunate and sickening that this individual had chosen this populated market to carry out the dastardly act.
These attacks, especially the one in Berlin, has again brought to the fore the vulnerability of the European continent. It is no doubt that terror is “fighting Europe” right now and there is urgent need for cooperation among these countries if much success is to be achieved.
The anger of the people of Europe can not be concealed right now. And this is understandable when one considers the fact that the population that they have taken in to help are now fighting them from within. With the identity of the attacker revealed, many questions are being asked about the immigration and refugee issues in Europe.
As the world mourns the dead in Berlin and also that of the Russian Ambassador, it is clear there is need for collective efforts on the parts of the European governments to win this war against terrorism. But the question is, how successful will this be, especially with the growing nationalism that is threatening the unity of the European Union, spearheaded (unfortunately) by Britain.
PHOTO CREDIT – AFP