‘Terrorist Attack In France May Predicate A New World War’
Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa spoke to DEBO OLADIMEJI on how to guard against a recurrence of the terror attacks in Paris, France last Friday which left many people dead and injured, and how to curb Boko Haram menace in Nigeria.
What are the lessons from the Paris terror attack?
It is to tell people that if France as powerful and developed as it is can still be taken unawares, countries like Nigeria must take the problem of Boko Haram insurgency more seriously because Boko Haram is an off shoot of Al Qaeda. So in this case, the first lesson is to tighten up security at the level of Africa, particularly Nigeria. The second lesson is that the European countries are giving solidarity support, logistic support to France meaning that the issues of terrorism cannot be addressed alone. So Nigeria should seek cooperation and assistance from other countries. There is need for international partnership.
What do you think that ISIS is up to by claiming responsibility for the attacks?
ISIS has been adopting terrorist methods in establishing itself as a state. It is a terrorist organisation. It has always adopted barbaric methods, uncivilized methods. At the end of the day, according to the theory of international law and international relations, you can only establish yourself as a state if you have three fundamental elements of recognition: If you have a territory on which to exercise your sovereignty; if you have people that is population; if you have government that will enter into international relations, contract international obligation and make the people to comply. It is only after meeting these requirements that a state is constituted.
So land, people and government are the three important elements of recognition. But in international relations, you may not as a state be able to enter into international relations if you are not so recognized. That is where the factor of international recognition comes in. But non-recognition does not means that you cannot exist as a state. So the Islamic state that we are talking about can always exist as a state but it does not enjoy much of international support. It does not have international recognition. And it wrongly believes that this can happen by using terrorist methods. This is why it is most unfortunate.
And at the end of the day, a country like France that has a moderate policy of accommodating various people with different colours, different cultural backgrounds shouldn’t be a country where ISIS should attack. Because at the end of the day, the Arab population or French people of Arab origin I think they are far more in France than any other country.
And because of French policy of assimilation put in place in 1958 under the Fifth Republic, they talk about French community. The moment you are considered as a citizen of France they don’t discriminate against any one. And you have all these Arabs, particularly Algerians, and all those Arabs they are there. So ISIS’s claim that it engaged in the barbaric act may have adverse effects on the Arabs and the Islamic community in France.
I think that at the end of the day, the way ISIS is also going about it may predicate a new world war which is in the making. A new world war because already if you look at the implication in the US for instance, many states don’t want any refugee from Syria or from that area. Since from the experience of France, the terrorists prepared their attack in Belgium but the execution was in France.
So this time everybody wants to be more conscious. So immigration to America in the foreseeable future will be very difficult for anybody coming from that area. That is the implication.
Do you agree with Muslims who say terrorists are not true Muslims?
The problem is that a Muslim observer said that ISIS are not Muslims. ISIS is saying that they are Muslims. The observer cannot know more about the ISIS. The ISIS will know more about itself. So an observer who is trying to say that it is like this, it is like that, cannot be more correct than ISIS itself. Even ISIS killers, when they want to attack they will say: “Allahu akbar.” Unless we have different versions of Islamic faith. The truth is that we have millions of Muslims who are very Godly; that are against violence.
You have a group of people who say that ISIS members are criminals, they are only using the framework of Islam to make a case. They may be correct but the problem is that how do you then explain the person who says he is the original, the more faithful or genuine Muslim? So it is a dicey situation and difficult question to address.
So is this a clash of civilisations?
I think that Samuel Huntington may be right by talking of clash of civilization. I can’t see the civilisation that ISIS is talking about. Is it the civilisation of terror? ISIS does not have any civilisation. They have to come out with the content of their own civilisation of what they are preaching for us to know. That is why I agree with some people that the ISIS is just a bunch of criminals. If you want to set up a state of your own, you either negotiate peacefully or you engage in war.