The brutality of the recent attacks on innocent civilians in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region proves that the rioters were terrorists rather than "heroes", as the Western media at times prefer to call them.
The brutal tactics used by the rioters in Xinjiang is typical of terrorists, who believe in "shock and awe" to stun their foes into accepting their demands. There is no place in a civilized society for violence, and this is the principal reason why the international community should unitedly fight against terrorists.
In the latest Xinjiang riots, 24 people, including 16 innocent Uygurs, were killed in Lukqun township of Shanshan county. The rioters attacked the township's police stations, a local government building and a construction site, and set fire to police cars. Twenty-one police officers and civilians were injured.
Such atrocities should be condemned by all but sadly, such unity of purpose against this deadly foe of civilization is absent in the international community.
Islam is a religion with varied sects. Like other religions, it also has its share of moderates and fundamentalists. And it is these fundamentalist (or extreme) elements that have unleashed terror on the better part of the globe. Their trail of terror runs from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Russia and Thailand to Nigeria, Algeria and Mali. In fact, no country seems to be immune to terrorist attacks, although the West continues to use double standards to determine such attacks in its own backyard and in countries like China.
Islamic fundamentalists believe believers in other religions (or even other Islamic sects) are "infidels" and thus not fit to live. They detest modern society, especially the advancement made by women. It is by getting access to such fundamental religious texts that some people in Xinjiang have acquired extremist beliefs, including the penchant for violence.
NATO member states, in particular, have been known for their partnership with such extremists, most recently in Libya and Syria, where extremist groups have been armed and set loose against the rest of society. Former Libyan president Muammar Gadhafi was indeed a whimsical leader. But throughout his years in power he ensured that Libya remained free of Islamic extremists. In contrast, after its "liberation" by NATO, Libya has become a honeycomb of terror cells and a prolific source of weapons, men and materials for terrorist groups operating in Africa, most visibly in Mali.
In Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra is in control of the rebel groups fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, although its operatives now function under different labels after the US branded it a terrorist group. Jabhat al-Nusra, however, has not had any difficulty in coordinating its activities or in enforcing the brutal logic of Islamic extremism in the Syrian conflict, such as the recent beheading of three Christians and the forced evacuation of Christians, Druze and Shias from the areas controlled by this NATO-supported band of thugs.
Interestingly, neither the United States nor the European Union has even noticed that in Homs, al-Qusayr, Aleppo and other cities temporarily occupied by the Free Syrian Army (a camouflage for Jabhat al-Nusra), Christians, Druze and Shias have been either killed or driven out, with many of their women becoming trophies of war.
Throughout the 1990s, former US president Bill Clinton supported the extremists operating in India and Afghanistan. But for the backing given by the US, the Taliban would never have succeeded to seize power in Afghanistan in 1996. The same set of "expert advisers" who orchestrated that takeover are still present in force in think tanks, government departments and intelligence agencies in Washington, so it is little wonder that they are seeking to bring the Taliban back into the Afghanistan government. The Taliban have even been gifted a multi-million dollar building as well as SUVs and huge amounts of cash in Qatar.
Until NATO understands that terrorism is a threat in its entirety, and that it needs to be opposed everywhere rather than just in the West, the world will not be free of this scourge. It is ironical to see France, which doesn't allow Muslim women to even use veils to cover their faces, trying to push a band of extreme elements led by Jabhat al-Nusra to power in Syria through the help of the gun.
Such double standards will finally boomerang on France, for after assuming power in Damascus, the extremists will set their sights on Paris, London and other Western cities (if not to seize power then to create terror) using Syria as a base in the same way they are using Libya now.
Chinese people have come face to face with extremist terror, and understand the need to build a joint front to fight this evil. So China should join hands with its neighbors to work out a comprehensive strategy against extremist terror. The problem can be solved only if the international community ensures that terrorists don't get shelter and encouragement from anyone.
And it's high time the US-led West realized that by dancing with extremists in theaters like Syria it is placing its own people at the risk of further terrorist attacks.
The author is vice-chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group and UNESCO peace chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University, India.
(China Daily 07/04/2013 page9)