Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Terrorists Will Not Stop the People from Living | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Injured people are assisted after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London. (Reuters)

At the heart of the city of London, a wave of dead-end traffic once again clogged city veins as police forces enforced a security lockdown after a bearded man was arrested with a knife near Westminster offices, which were attacked last month.

I asked the cab driver, who in turn was irked with the hour he spent stuck in traffic, on what was happening. “The police closed off all main routes as usual, and here we are stuck behind cars and buses as you can see,” said the chauffeur.

“These terrorists won’t stop pestering us, but we will carry on with our lives—we will not humor their attempts, but we will move on,” he added.

It might be that London suffered a grief lesser than Paris or Brussels — two capitals which fell victim to some of the most brutal terror attacks in Europe — but it too is a city targeted by terror that desires to impede people’s lifestyle every now and then.

Resiliently, the people of London, Paris, Cairo, Istanbul, Riyadh, Manama or any other part of the world threatened by terrorism have pushed full steam ahead. Even though, they may pause for a moment of grief and worry, they soon hit back the ground running.

In July, 2016, an attack struck the French city of Nice when a 19 ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais, resulting in the deaths of 84 people. It left a large number of people struck with horror, bringing out France’s then Prime Minister Manuel Valls to call for national unity in the face of terrorism.

“Times have changed and we should learn to live with terrorism. We have to show solidarity and collective calm. France has been hit in its soul on July 14, our national day,” Valls had said.

His speech received much criticism for demoralizing the French, but what he had said is the proper recipe for countering the fear-spurring and terrorizing strategy adopted by terrorists.

Terrorists stoke fear among all social elements, cultures and religions, and they are well aware that attacking Westminster will not harm any government official.

Nevertheless, attacking Westminster would horrify people, bringing them a step closer to achieving their goals.

Terrorism thrives on fear that makes resistance all the more futile and impossible. Fueled by religious disregard and immorality this threat has succeeded in infecting the world with anxiety, doubt and hatred.

Members of society cannot be blamed for naturally fearing threats posed against their lives. But a thought worth having is that the fear will not help in preventing terrorist attacks from happening. It would only prevent the people from going on with their lives and moving forward.

As governments spend tremendous military and security efforts to make the world a safer place, societies have to also aid in rejecting a reality where terrorism plays out its rules and goals. Losses suffered are a harsh work of fate and not a choice. A central part of the war on terror is for the people to coexist with terrorism, but governments don’t have to.