Terrorism in name of religion is driven by despair

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In the aftermath of the Paris attacks there has been predictable and understandable condemnation of the terrorists and resolve to overcome them wherever they and wherever their poison appears.

Such resolve, however, targets only the symptoms of a problem that lies much deeper than fundamentalist Islam.

The root cause of terrorism is an over-populated world where too many young people across the world have no meaningful future.

Add in mass migration resulting from warfare, and warfare that is ultimately driven by too many people trying to live on too little, unproductive land and hatred and violence are inevitable.

In such a situation fundamentalist religion, no matter how absurd, offers something to people who have no other goal in their lives. We should not be surprised that so many are drawn to its cause. What we saw in Paris was disturbing, dismaying and despicable, but it was predictable.

Nothing said or done by Cameron or Obama or Hollande can change the fact that terrorism may be carried out in the name of politics or religion, but it is driven by despair.

For those of us lucky enough to live on the edge of Europe, particularly those in small communities far from urban populations, the waves of destruction are likely to be muted.

Those of us who live in increasingly crowded cities where thousands of new faces arrive each year, all competing for shelter and work, face an increasingly uncertain and unpleasant future. This apocalyptic view may seem exaggerated, but for most of history human lives have been dominated by violence, fear and hunger.

After a very short period of stability we are merely returning to the state of uncertainty in which most animals live; the only difference is that we are conscious of what is happening and we fool ourselves that there is an enemy that we can overcome.

Yes, there is an enemy, but it is ourselves – we created the over-crowded, rapidly impoverished world in which we are living; we should not be surprised that the world gave back to us the nihilists who devastated Paris on Friday evening.

Martin Foreman

Craigend Park, Edinburgh

While what most of what your first four letter writers (18 November) say is true to an extent about the effects of the terrorist campaign spreading from the Middle East, there is a salient point which we in the West must grasp if we are going to get any kind of understanding about what is happening to us.

The religion of Islam is central to the situation. One of Islam’s strengths has always been that it has no leader on earth and in the past this has served it well, where it has shared power with dictator families (presidents, kings, princes, etc) in most Middle Eastern countries. However, our attempts to replace that status quo with “democracy” have opened the door for the super-rich families in the oil states to make a concerted bid for power using proxies. The people who financed the dozens of new Mercedes lorries for Boko Haram in Africa and dozens of new Toyota SUVs for Isil simultaneously in the Levant are at the heart of our problem.

Playing both ends against the middle they have started a very real bid for power all round the Mediterranean and until the problem is choked off at source the present futile headless-chicken dance of our leaders will continue.

Irvine Inglis

Reston, Berwickshire

The Paris massacre is a crime against humanity and such attacks are rightly deplored. However, this was not the first large-scale massacre in Paris. In 1961 around 200 Algerians marching against the war in Algeria were shot dead by the police. The police chief at the time was Maurice Papon, who worked for the Vichy police during the Second World War and collaborated with the Nazis .

Until the Palestinian problem is resolved we can expect more attacks similar to the horrific events in Paris last week.

It is reported that much funding for IS comes from Saudi Arabia so why does David Cameron not criticise the Saudi dynasty?

Donald J MacLeod

Woodcroft Avenue, Aberdeen