[FOUNTAIN]Humiliation, religion is a volatile mix

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[FOUNTAIN]Humiliation, religion is a volatile mix

The United States is not the only country to write new history after the 9/11 terror attacks. The London-based Muslim leader Omar Bakri Muhammad called Al Qaeda not just a group but a phenomenon. “Sept. 11 made Muslims understand that they have power. A new chapter of history has begun. That’s why we have initiated a new calendar. We are now in the Year Three of the Al Qaeda era.”
Jessica Stern, the author of “Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill,” interviewed international terrorists from all over the world over six years to find an answer to the question she posed. She reached a conclusion that humiliation and pride were the reasons for terrorism. When a terrorist with strong religious faith felt humiliated, he would turn violent, and a terror attack is a means to recover his damaged pride. In the process, violence is justified and the terrorist is convinced he is right.
To Omar Muhammad, the 9/11 attacks meant the restoration of pride and self-esteem. It is true that the pre-9/11 humiliation originated from the stationing of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia after the end of the first Gulf War. In his sermons, Muhammad called the U.S. forces the return of the Christian crusaders.
The motivation behind the foreign Muslim fighters gathering in Iraq is humiliation. Muhammad felt extreme humiliation when he saw the photos of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Muhammad preached that a bell rang to awake the pride of Muslims around the world. He urged Muslims to stand up for their humiliated brothers and sisters and not to take the abuse for granted. The sheik claimed that Muslims have time and power to prevent further cruelties by non-Muslims. His sermons were enough inspiration to encourage many young Muslims in London to become Mujahideen fighters and fly to Baghdad.
Due to its intention to inspire fear and horror in the public, terrorism is indiscriminate.
With religious conviction, the terrorists are unforgiving and ruthless. There is no middle ground in the war between good and evil. The decision to send troops to Iraq means choosing a side between good and evil. The tragic fate of Kim Sun-il, a Korean hostage killed by Iraqi insurgents, reminds us that the war has already begun. At the same time, his death poses a question to Korea: Is it ready to jump into the war?


by Oh Byung-sang

The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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