Security vs freedoms

Security vs freedoms

What happened in London on March 22 was just another reminder to the international community of nations that no one is immune to terrorism and violence. Rising up all together and shouting “We are all Londoners” might help demonstrate solidarity with the victims and in condoning acts of terrorism. But would it help stop a similar dastard attack somewhere else tomorrow? Unfortunately not.

The United States and Britain took some nasty and restrictive measures this week with the aim and intention of preventing acts of terrorism on passenger planes. Banning iPads, laptops and all other electronic devices bigger than a cellular phone on planes, and compelling passengers to place them in their luggage; was just another measure restricting the rights, liberties and the comfort of passengers.

Was it a security measure or was it an economic sanction - as some people immediately claimed, by looking at the list of countries and airports from where such devices were banned in flights to the U.S. or the U.K. Terrorists using laptops or iPads as an explosive device might appear difficult for ordinary people to accept. Yet, aviation security experts claim Americans and Britons must have acted on sufficient and credible intelligence that such a heinous action was being planned by some radical Islamist terrorists. The assumption is simple. If it happened once, it could happen again. If despite security checks, a terrorist could still use a bomb-laden laptop when attacking a Daallo Airlines plane flying from Somali to Djibouti, should the world wait for the next or third similar attack before taking measures? 

Although people, such as this writer, who loved writing and going through a read while flying, particularly transatlantic flights, will get very bored. What will come next? If Islamist terrorism as well as other political terrorists have become a very serious global concern, and if these gangs now have developed capabilities of staging their heinous acts anywhere on the globe; the temporary security measures taken this week, I am afraid, will become a routine practice tomorrow, with those in Turkey and elsewhere condemning the laptop ban.

Yes, we have revisited the “Islamist terrorism” description that some people refuse to accept and even terrorize others not to use such a description because the words Islam and terrorism should not be used in the same sentence. Why? Because Islam preaches peace and tolerance that Islamists defend. Islam and all other religions of course are for peace, cohesion and happiness of mankind. But in every religion there have always been people who have tried to exploit the religion and religious feelings to promote their political, economic or whatever cause. Unfortunately, using the notion of “Jihad” or holy war, many perverts exploited Islam all along, tortured and murdered people in cold blood. 

The existence of the notion of secularism, which is the effective separation of state and religion, is existentially important in a predominantly Muslim country, precisely because of such primitive mindsets of Islamists.

Airport and flight security are very serious issues, and they must be taken very seriously. Though often going through security measures are so frustrating and restrictive, they are the reality of today’s world. If terrorism cannot be wiped off the globe totally and if technologic advances achieved by mankind are so successfully and heinously adopted by the terrorists to boost their lethal capacities, we are all compelled to accept restrictions on our freedoms, liberties and rights for the sake of our own security. As awkward as it might be, it appears there is no way out of this situation.

Today, we are all mourning the London victims of terrorism with awareness that terrorism cannot be totally eradicated, but could be contained if somehow someday a global concerted effort against it might become possible. Unfortunately, so far, with every country having its “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists,” the global fight against terrorism remains to be a utopia.