A candle with the words 'Why?' written upon it is placed next to flowers near the Olympia shopping mall, where yesterday's shooting rampage started, in Munich, Germany July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
A candle with the words ‘Why?’ written upon it is placed next to flowers near the Olympia shopping mall, where yesterday’s shooting rampage started, in Munich, Germany July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

by Ijaz Ahmed 

This past month, a lone gunman killed nine people and injured over thirty at a shopping mall in Munich, Germany before taking his own life. The moment I heard the news, I was shocked and horrified for two main reasons. Firstly, the killing of nine innocent souls is deeply saddening and my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Secondly, with the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and its ties to Daesh, I feared that the perpetrator of this violent incident was a Muslim and, God forbid, committed the attack in the name of my religion Islam.

The perpetrator was identified as David Ali Sonboly, who was born in Germany and is of Iranian descent. The Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae declared that David Sonboly had “absolutely no link to the Islamic state.” Instead the attack was committed by a deranged person “obsessed” with mass shootings. He had spent two months in an inpatient mental care facility in 2015 and was afraid of contact with other people. What is most disturbing was that the attack occurred exactly five years after Anders Breivik killed 77 in Oslo. The far-right domestic terrorist is believed to be the major inspiration for David’s act of bloodshed.

With the recent rise of terrorist attacks in the world, more lone deranged killers like David are likely to start coming out. This only points to the notion that terrorism has no religion. Those who take the lives of innocent people, whether out of hate or out of some ill-inspired pride, are obviously confused and often misled.

Surprisingly, the western media has not provided much attention to this story. Ever since the police found no ties to Daesh, the story has been deemed less deserving of coverage. This is wholly irresponsible. Why is it only front page news when Islamic extremist ideology is involved? Don’t the nine victims of this attack deserve as much attention as the victims of other terrorist attacks?

Furthermore, the media has avoided using the word terrorist by simply calling the incident an attack. With all the frustration over political correctness, I think it is important to call this for what it is. This was a terrorist attack that occurred in a mall, where patrons hope to shop in peace and security. David Ali Sonboly was a terrorist just like Anders Breivik and Omar Mateen.

His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has urged the media to understand their responsibility when it comes to bringing peace and justice in the world. He stated: “There is no doubt that the media plays a huge role in influencing public opinion and so the media should use this power responsibly – as a force for good and as a force for peace. It should show the world what true Islam represents, rather than focusing on the merciless acts of the tiny minority.”

As for those who commit horrible acts in the name of Islam, His Holiness has stated that “These satanic, fragmented people are without leadership and so they will continue to do these hateful acts. They are falsely perpetrating such cruelties in the name of Islam.”

This is where Muslims and non-Muslims need to come together to prevent the radicalization of youth. Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of Countering Extremism said: ““There can be no better example of [countering extremism] than that exemplified by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community under the Divine and inspirational leadership of His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continuously keeps the youth engaged in community work, spiritual rejuvenation, and the pursuit of higher education. The product of our efforts can be proven by the fact that not a single Ahmadi Muslim youth has ever been radicalized. The world is in need of true leadership to guide youth away from committing acts of terror. That leader is already here and has been at the forefront of combating extremism for almost two decades.

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