All of a sudden, terrorism is trendy, glamorous and appealing. From AK 47 rifles stylishly slung over the shoulder to chains of amour adorning terrorists in a photo shoot, the free world is inundated with images of these new whiz kids determined to violently overthrow the status quo. An uncanny mix of religion, politics and outright criminality is breeding a new global trend that disrespects international boundaries, law and order. Whether they are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Somalia or Nigeria, this growing band of brothers is enjoying the spotlight offered them by global television, news channels not content with reporting events as they happened are now in the business of auto suggestion, divisive commentary that fuels more terrorism and aggressively becoming voices for politicians in opposition.
The media justifies terrorism
In the wake of Nigeria’s ongoing crisis following the abduction of over two hundred Chibok schoolgirls, the international media got on board reporting, investigating and justifying the origins and social determinants that could have possibly created the monster called Boko Haram. They claimed in their reporting that terrorism is a justifiable response to poverty, unemployment and deprivation. In their push to make as much news capital as possible from the unfolding events, they forgot to ask themselves what the world would have looked like if all poor, unemployed and deprived people got armed and became terrorists. It never mattered to them that Boko Haram they were finding excuses for was based in an area of Nigeria with very rich individuals compared to other parts of Nigeria. It never mattered to the international media that the buoyant economy of the south Is powered by the private sector and entrepreneurs without any government funding. The time was understandably too short it seemed for them to make a detour to Nigerian history books that may reveal a choice made by the ancestors of these individuals and how the British took advantage of that to administer them indirectly.
Voicing opposing views
It was clear that Al Jazeera was determined to create news rather that report events with a view to fueling public anger and outrage against the government of Nigeria’s handling of the crisis. The word ‘outrage’ was used so many times it found its way into the dictum of Nigerian after dinner conversation. They tried emphasizing the religious differences between the north and the south much the same way as they boosted the difference between different Muslim sects that created reasons for post war conflicts in Iraq. They emphasized and reported whatever politicians in opposition said to them without any verification. They reported that the Nigerian military was warned two hours before the abduction of the schoolgirls and did nothing about it. Within hours, they edited the time lapse to one hour and forty five minutes and later to four hours within the same day. In the end, despite a representative of amnesty international wading in to report the same matter, it became clear it was the opposition that provided the information to discredit the government and the military.
All in the name of God
Thanks to the social media and international news networks, we have seen and listened to the terrorists more than positive influencers in the free world. The religious apologists for terrorists need to tell us what God has to do with bombing of innocent people, ethnic cleansing of Christian communities among them, abduction of schoolgirls and a religious justification for selling them into slavery. What have religion, poverty, unemployment and deprivation got to do with a deliberate backward belief that western education is a sin? Does it really matter to God if the government of a people is secular or religious? Does it make God sense to burn schools, churches and mosques in the name of a most merciful God?
Do we need all that news?
The news channels in their quest for breaking news, scoops and rating have ended up glamorizing terrorism. Young people of impressionable age are seeing Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram as a super hero. His exploits are reported with a hint of bravado while military action is condemned as high handed by the international community, condemned by rights groups and used by the opposition to discredit the federal government. Since terrorism clearly has no ideology, territorial support and purpose other than criminality and moments of fame in the media, unverified reporting and continued lime-lighting of terrorists will create future terrorists who will be recruited for the show to go on at the expense of human life and evolution. At times, I wonder if we need all that news and whether the world would not have been a better place if cross country news gathering and dissemination did not exist. This is particularly so when we consider that the international media is in business and it is in their interest that things that divide us are emphasized in the hope that our outrage against common sense and humanity are evoked to the extent we arm ourselves and create more news that keeps them employed.