Ills of Terror

Terrorist attack has become one element of today's world. Despite changes in approach and tactics, the damage caused by the scourge is growing with each day. Governments are grappling with the challenge. Tight security has become a defining trait in most capitals. The normalcy of metropolitan life is disturbed by each attack. In it though, the solidarity of Ethiopians with their fellow citizens stands out.

The most feared destructive weapon was, and of course, still is, the nuclear bomb. After the treaty was signed by Iran and the other superpowers, the world seemed to have reached the breathtaking interval, at least for the coming decade. But that did not come cheap. Much time and strenuous efforts were exerted until that recess time was reached. That kind of anticipated distraction would be on a massive scale. The two world wars and the subsequent staggered battles that took place here and there have indicated what it would be like having the third world war if at all there could be souls to tell or write its history.

This time, however, the quality has changed. It takes place on a smaller scale, on an individual level, but with no less impact. The piecemeal action attacks the individual mind and fills it with terror and fear. In the quest to live every second of the day being natural, the general tendency is to take everything for granted. If, however, we suffer from an accident with possible fatal outcome, we try to gamble to sustain our existence, either by going to the hospital for some treatment or medication.

If that is not possible for some reason or other, we try to suppress our ailment or make efforts to find other cures, such as herbal medicines or holy water. We are now losing even those alternatives fast and hard.

Here in Brussels, the capital of the European Union member countries, the atmosphere of coexistence in peace and harmony has suddenly changed. Peace and tranquillity has so far been an attitude of mind. This state of mind has been the result of centuries of impacts of democratic changes through the cumulative impacts of intellectual refinement of thought and the high level of research in science and technology which freed all these states from poverty.

Since recent tragic attacks in Paris, France, in particular, no one can ever be certain of walking or driving safely in the streets of Brussels, to speak of my vicinity.

Terror comes in a multiple of ways. It can take at any time and at any place. The general belief could be caused by those who may be wanting to take revenge or remorse. The airplane that fell in the Sinai Desert of Egypt is now confirmed to be the result of a terrorist act, even by Russia, which had been reserved in making outright statements before there were enough grounds on which to base them.

Driving vehicles laden with explosives and crashing them into government installations or restaurants is a frequent destructive measure taken by terrorists, particularly in places like Mogadishu and other border towns. Taking suicidal steps to kill others has been typical in the domain of Boko Haram, having a different school of thought from the philosophy of the modern world.

Football, an activity in which fans were seized by the magic of winning and losing bets, was not even spared from the terror act. Belgium had to cancel out a friendly game with Spain, last night. This measure was believed to be a tribute to those who lost their lives in Paris last week.

But it was also a temporary safe haven for the people of Brussels, in general. That did not seem to hold longer, however. More breaking news was heard this morning in the same French capital where the manhunt for the remaining fugitive was still underway. A raid by the police force was suddenly made at an apartment which the suspects were using as their hideout.

We are now looking over our shoulders even when we drive to the hospital. The weather is fast changing. The trees are shedding their leaves. Chilly weather has started surging in. We have a difference of two hours from the Ethiopian local time. It gets dark very early. Regulars of bars and restaurants prefer to stay indoors.

The Paris incident has taken every mood under complete control. No one can be sure where it is safe.

Certain communes or sub-cities where most North African migrants are settled are being searched, day in and day out. Shopping zones are no more congested with trader and buyers. The daily market reports of interest rates in the financial markets are slumping drastically. The sidewalks are all deserted.

The big nations, the G-20 as they are known, these days are holding conferences and passing resolutions. The French president has made it clear that he will not at all succumb to terror. He will fight back mercilessly. Others have also expressed their full commitment of solidarity.

But terrorists do not seem to heed an inch. No account of air raid or bomb could make them any better. They seem to be waiting and lurking around to make another strike when the world seems to go back to normalcy.

Laws and bylaws, resolved and passed by governments, have only helped dictators who use them as a pretext to crack down on the innocent law abiding citizens who want to voice the woes and cries of the voiceless and go unperturbed for the moment.

We, Ethiopians, in particular, get telephone calls from within Brussels or distance calls from Ethiopia. Whether we are in Brussels or Paris, Germany or Holland, or anywhere else, we express our concerns about the well being of one another. It is really unbelievable to note how Ethiopians keep in touch with one another in times like this. This is also the time when we are all concerned about our people back home with the threat of the ongoing drought hovering over Ethiopia. This is also the time when the slogan “Long Live Ethiopia in Honour” really means what it says.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Nov 23,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 812]



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