Belfast Telegraph

Killings by Taliban and US immoral

By Mohammed Samaana

The brutality of the massacre committed by the Taliban against Muslim schoolchildren in Pakistan this week shows how their wicked ideology has nothing to do with Islam, which prohibits the killing of children.

This is not the first time similar terror groups have target schoolchildren. Boko Haram kidnapped a number of schoolgirls in Nigeria earlier this year.

While the two groups claim to be Islamic, they breached the first rule of Islam, as the first word of the Koran revealed to Prophet Muhammad was Ikra, which means 'read' in Arabic. While Islam made it an obligation for Muslims to seek knowledge - which led to centuries of advances in science, arts and culture and made the Muslim world a science hub - these two groups denied Muslim children their right to education as granted in the Koran.

It is ironic that the word Taliban means 'students' in Pashto - one of the two official languages in Afghanistan and spoken by 15% of people in Pakistan - as the group itself emerged from religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan but was led by Mullah Omar, who fought with the US-backed mujahedeen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Furthermore, a number of the original Taliban commanders were teachers who initially stood up to corrupt politicians before turning on ordinary Muslims. It is also ironic that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 was recognised by only three countries, that have been close allies of the US - Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

While our hearts go out to the families of the children killed by the Taliban, and to the families of the two victims killed in the Sydney cafe siege, we should also remember the Pakistani children who have been killed by US drone strikes authorised by President Barack Obama.

Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticised the secrecy that shrouds the drones' programme. In Pakistan, it is estimated that between 168 and 200 children have been killed by them. The Taliban's atrocities may reduce support for themselves but US airstrikes will ensure the extremists have new recruits.

Mohammed Samaana is a freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland

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