On the evening of November 13th, the world was stunned when the French capital Paris, often called “La Ville-Lumière” (The Light City), plunged into darkness with a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. More than 130 people were killed and scores injured in this heinous act of terror the responsibility for which was claimed by the self-styled Islamic State (Daesh). The French President François Hollande was too quick to issue the verdict that this was “an act of war organized from abroad by Daesh with internal help.” However, what caught the world’s attention was Pope Francis’ statement whereby he ‘warned’ the world that thinks this and other global horrors, are part of a kind of “third world war,” being fought “piecemeal.” It is difficult to understand why the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church made such a statement that may fan hatred.

The Pope’s statement further reinforced the doubts that a smearing campaign against the Muslims is in the offing. And, it did happen when the lives and properties of the Muslims living in France or anywhere else in Europe came under threat. The Pope, knowingly or unknowingly, has tried to resurrect the dead notion of “Clash of Civilizations” — a theory by Samuel P. Huntington which state that “the principal conflicts of global politics [in future] will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations.”

The statement is mind-boggling given the fact that whenever there is an attack in a European country or the US, a sense of déjà vu permeates the world. History bears testimony that Muslims have been subjected to tyranny and injustice around the world. Palestine, Kashmir, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan were sent virtually to the Stone Age but still Muslims never resorted to terrorism; rather they took up arms only when they were being exterminated, only to defend their right to live. Muslim peoples and political and religious leadership abhor terrorism and the terrorists. But, still, they are being portrayed as the patrons of terrorism.

The world has seen numerous bloodbaths in recent years. The spilling of blood would stop only if the Western policymakers stop taking Islam as an enemy to Christianity. The dream of a peaceful world can be achieved only by cultivating forbearance and harmony among various religions and societies. The world would be safe only when an environment of coexistence will prevail all around. And, for achieving this, people or any other letter will have to abstain from such statements as well as actions.

SAIMA RIASAT,

Lahore, December 11.