Lone Wolf

So what makes them do it? What makes an ordinary, quiet, seemingly normal teenager fire an automatic at his school friends and teachers? What makes a man drive his car into innocent pedestrians on a sidewalk? What justification is there for these lone wolf attacks?

Wolves are pack animals, just as humans are by nature socialised beings. Lone wolves on the other hand, prefer their own company. They live and hunt on their own. They are outcasts by temperament, by circumstance and sometimes of their own volition.

Nearly always after another chilling attack, emerge the clues that led to it. A social misfit, a dysfunctional background, a lack of love, a propensity for violence, vulnerability to ideological brainwashing. Taken alone, each of these qualities may perhaps lead a person to a solitary existence, a criminal career or even a mental institution. Together, however, they become so much more dangerous.

Can we, as responsible citizens; parents, neighbours, co workers, pick up on any of these clues, and report them to the relevant authorities? Do we, as a society, have a duty towards these social outcasts? Is it possible in any way to intervene and diffuse a potentially fatal situation from developing?

These are amongst the many questions that lie at the heart of the modern dilemma of home grown attackers. Are killers born or made? Are terrorists just victims of circumstance and conditioning?

Reflection and responsibility. Two things that might lead us to answers. Uncomfortable truths of the part we play in marginalising these peripheral pariahs, whose only moments of recognition and glory lie in death, terror and destruction.

Then, and only then, will we vanquish this multi headed Hydra.

Sharia

It is with growing horror and a deep sense of foreboding that I read about the re introduction of the Sharia law in the kingdom of Brunei. Sharia law, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is considered the infallible law of God in Islam. In its radical interpretation, music and dance are forbidden as are (very obviously) cigarettes and alcohol; there are medieval punishments for crimes like theft, and enforcement of attendance to regular prayer is brutal and swift. The introduction of Sharia has been a longstanding goal for many Islamist movements. Even as ISIS the breakaway extremist faction of the Al Qaeda, makes steady inroads into Iraq and neighbouring Syria, with an alarming speed, it is bringing these changes along in its wake.

Scarily, for the women in this part of the world, this will mean losing whatever little independence they had to begin with. Servility, subjugation, voicelessness, obedience and anonymity are bywords for the womenfolk under Sharia. In Brunei, where the plan is to introduce the law in three phases, the first will include fines and jail terms for unmarried women becoming pregnant. The second will incorporate punishments like whipping and amputations for alcohol consumption and theft. The third will be the imposition of stoning and death sentences for adultery, sodomy and murder. These punishments will apply not just to the locals but also to non-muslims.

It should come as no surprise that the judges, enforcers and authorities will primarily be male. Moderate Islamists have always understood and supported the role of women in society. How can a nation, a family, or a relationship thrive and prosper, if a significant proportion of the populace is metaphorically bound, gagged and blindfolded? Yet, in a return to the Dark ages, these laws aim to do just that. Women are seen as no more than baby making machines, with the added perk of being housemaids and nursemaids.

With a denial to basic freedom, to education and to any kind of joy in their lives, what kind of a future will emerge from these lands? For is it not the hand that rocks the cradle, that subliminally rules the world? If not in deed, then in desperation, there is bound to emerge a counter movement. One that will be spearheaded by brave souls like Malala Yousafzai. When that happens, and it will, it is women in the free world who must rise in support of our sisters. The time to be passive has long gone. What we are questioning and debating are not the tenets of a religious law, but our rights as humans to be accorded the respect and the dignity that should be the bedrock of all existence.

 

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