November 13, 2015, goes down in history when a deadly attack, in fact, the deadliest of its kind was unleashed on France that left no fewer than 129 people dead, 300 injured and 90 mortally wounded, reported TG5 an Italian satellite television station monitored in Turin.
It was a scene of sorrow and blood. Soon after the coordinated attacks in six different locations in the ever busy French capital, TG5 further reported that the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for felling unsuspecting and unarmed civilians with terrorist's bullets and other powerful explosives. This, I dare day, is heart-rending!
France, though a Christian country governed by canon laws is known for its hospitality, a country that is non-discriminatory in religious affairs which speak volumes for the large numbers of Muslim immigrants in the country, many of whom have been given citizenship status. France has a long and honourable history of a civilized world treating all classes of migrants qualitatively different from some countries in the euro-zone others which look upon immigrants as the ruck from an extinct barbarian tribe.
While the world today sympathizes with France, Assad the president of Syria appears contented with the terror unleashed on France by a statement being credited to him which has made news headlines across the world. Assad, reports say, blamed the attack on France's foreign policy. It takes a coward and barbarian to employ explosives and Al Bashar Assad has seemingly justified this act of terror on unarmed civilians. From where did these attackers emerge? Is it not from Assad's Syria? I have my reservations here.
Does Assad have value for human life? Has he not been implicated in the use of poison gas to kill the opponents of the Damascus regime; do some of his victims still not suffer neurological disorders, convulsions, comas and digestive shutdown till today? Where has France erred for joining forces with other well-meaning allies to dethrone Assad and return peace to the country considering the number of Syrians that have died and migrants that are still fleeing the country in droves to Europe?
Be that as it may, the Paris attacks remain an eye-opener to the government and people of France. France must as a matter of urgency review its immigration policy. The foul nature of the deaths means that suicide vests and other explosives hold a particular terror in the public imagination by cruel men that are recognized to be outside the bounds of civilization.
In the not too distant past, the writer has it on good authority that some migrant-turned French citizens went to Syria, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, got radicalized and returned to France in droves. The French returnees from Syria fired their first salvo calling to mind the Paris-bound train Moroccan gunman that was swooped on, overpowered, beaten unconscious and disarmed by American servicemen.
France and other EU countries have much work to do to combat terror by strict controls and checks on cross-border movements. Governments across the EU have condemned extremism, given active support to values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.
None of these values should, therefore, be taken too literally because when we talk of ‘the rule of law’ we include a law that has few limits and which requires public officials to restrict individual liberties, such as free speech and free assembly, untroubled by the notion that a person may do anything that is not expressly outlawed. These tips might be useful for France and other countries Nigeria, for instance, which have been caught in a similar agonizing web.
There is an urgent need for France to start a campaign bordering on terrorism awareness. The media has a pivotal role to play in this regard. In every civil division, this will help, in no small measure, to enable us know or identify individuals who are most likely to be drawn into terrorism. This awareness could guard against the rational but undesirable view.
Secondly, this might be considered as an affront to religious freedom but it is actually not. Employing the number one tip above will, therefore, be easy to identify a potential terrorist whose free speech must be curtailed before he begins to promote extremist views. This constitutes nothing but a grave danger all things considered.
In a similar vein, if he is a person that commands or has followers, he must be kept tabs on and his freedom of movement curtailed if need be and kept away from people before his followers are indoctrinated or begin to imbibe his extremist views.
While the world expresses sincere condolences to the families, friends and relatives slain in the November 13 attacks and voicing solidarity with France in its fight against terror, the government is hereby adjured to quickly review its immigration policy, keep some immigrant-turned citizens of questionable character under constant surveillance and strict observation no matter whose ox is gored. This has become absolutely necessary because it is sometimes desirable to have rights curtailed or infringed on in the national interest.
Iyoha John Darlington, a scholar, an opinion leader and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy
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