Terrorism is a calculated act of using violence or violent threats against non-combatants with an aim of instilling fear or causing harm to civilians in order to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological motivated. The fight against terrorism as we know it today is perhaps shaped by the actions of the U.S. government after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. The U.S. responded with a war on terror whose goal was to bring the perpetrators to justice and avert thriving of terrorist networks. Other governments later join the war on terror which has had and continues to have grievous consequences for human rights all over the world. Terrorists have identified a thriving ground in democratic states thus exposing such states to terror and resulting in democratic states limiting the people’s freedom and rights. Thus, terrorism has contributed to the growing abuse of human rights.
Some people may argue that human rights oppression existed way before 9/11 and dates back to the slave trade but what these people are not considering is the fact that terrorism doesn’t necessarily mean blowing up buildings and hijacking planes. Instilling public fear with a goal of compelling the authority to do or refrain from doing something also counts as terrorism. In a bid to keep their people safe, governments have infringed on the privacy of the very people they are trying to protect. CCTV cameras have been installed almost everywhere limiting people’s personal space. Phone tapping in the name of national security has been legalized and private conversations in public halls lack the personal feel because cameras are everywhere. As if this is not enough, passengers are subjected to full body scans and searches in airports and seaports and this disregards personal space.
The fight against terrorism has created an impression that Islam is a violent religion and that Muslims are terrorists. Governments labeling Islamic states as enemy states doesn’t help the situation either. In fact it leads to citizens having the impression that such states are enemies of peace resulting in xenophobic attacks against citizens in the Diaspora. Most recently, Kenya has reported xenophobic attacks against people of Somali origin following a series of terror attacks in the capital city. The invasion of Somalia by Kenyan troops in pursuit of terror gangs can directly be attributed to the xenophobic attacks against Somali nationals in Nairobi.
In 19th March 2003, U.S. troops invaded Iraq in an operation to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam Hussein’s support of terrorism (Vaughns, 76). The legality of the invasion is still contentious since the weapons of mass destruction alleged were never found but after the seven years of war, the human rights violations in Iraq were not worth the unproven allegations. In one the incidents, May 2006, U.S. military personnel gang raped and later murdered a fourteen year old Iraqi girl after killing 3 of her family members. Although the soldiers who committed this heinous crime were brought to book, most of them go scot free which is a violation of justice and hence a violation of human rights.
To any rational human being, terrorism is evil and is an act of cowardice. Governments should protect their people against terrorist whose goal is to hurt and cause fear. On the other hand, human rights are fundamental to every human being. It is the work of the government to ensure that the rights of every citizen are safeguarded and anyone who violates the rights of another citizen is brought to book.