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Why they hate us

Saturday’s bombings in Delhi have again given us reasons to be terribly worried. Why do terrorists kill and maim? Because they hate us. But why do they hate us? A report by Zia Haq.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2008 01:29 IST

Saturday’s bombings in Delhi have again given us reasons to be terribly worried. Why do terrorists kill and maim? Because they hate us. But why do they hate us?

After 9/11, Americans thought terrorists were simply crazy. In a seminal story, the Indian-born editor of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria, had said terrorists were neither insane nor weird. If they hated Americans, there must be a reason, right or wrong, he noted.

It’s time we asked this question all over again. Take a look at the shadowy Indian Mujahideen (IM)’s customary e-mail. In an ironic twist, the mail began with the Quran’s opening lines: “In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent and most Merciful”. There was no trace of mercy in it, though. It dripped with hatred, vengeance, grievance, revenge and retribution.

Like it or not, it referred to two issues that remain a sore point with Indian Muslims. First, the tardy progress in trying the Gujarat riot-related cases. Secondly, harassment of innocents in the name of tackling terror.

Defeating terror will not be possible without Muslim help. To think that a new anti-terror law alone will work is delusional. The main reason why the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) was scrapped was because the conviction count while it was in force was roughly the same as under conventional laws. Human rights abuses, however, were many times higher. A law can at best stop a person from acting like a terrorist; it can do nothing to stop him from thinking like one.

Ordinary Muslims aren’t happy with the current approach of the police, which can be summed up thus: if you are a Muslim, you are a potential terrorist.

Thankfully, today Muslims realise that their co-religionists could be terrorists. Darul-Uloom’s anti-terror fatwa is a frontal attack on terrorists. Yet, the state cannot hope to curb terror without curbing the reasons why they hate us. That is the key to tackling terror.