One of the significant areas of our work at G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice is to inform the broader public about key global news, on a variety of topics and from a range of regions and sources. Each year holds tremendous stories about global challenges and ways that peoples and countries have overcome those challenges. 2016 was a year of particularly important global news stories, making it difficult to select just 10 to highlight. But here are my selections for the “Top 10 Global News of 2016:”
When my father was a young boy in India, he dreamed of someday going to America—a remarkable place of opportunities. In the 1940’s in a newly independent India, that idea seemed as preposterous as going to the moon. But in 1969 America put a man on the moon. And just two years later in 1971, my father immigrated to the United States from India. He was 27 years old and came to this country on a student visa. He had never left his native country and only had a few dollars to make his way in a new country.
2015 was a significant year for major news stories related to international issues and global justice. Throughout this year we have seen wide scale global concerns on topics ranging from race & religion to violence & terrorism to natural disasters. The following is a summary of my selection of the Top Ten Global News stories and themes for the year based on their international impact and relevance for global justice, but they do not diminish the relevance of the many other significant events and issues raised throughout the year:
Religious extremism is nothing new to our world. Many extremist individuals and groups have branched out from major religions in many regions. In recent decades the most notable of religious extremism arguably has been in the form of radical Islam. While radical Islamists are by no means the only religious extremists in our world today, they have been responsible for some of the widest scale terrorist acts of recent years and even recent days – particularly 9/11; attacks in Africa, Europe, and the MidEast; and most recently in San Bernadino. However, some people both within and outside Islam, take issue with associating this religion with this particular brand of extremism. They argue that the violence of groups like ISIS is not condoned by Muslims more broadly and thus should not be associated with Islam. I agree with this argument as much as I agree that as a Christian I wouldn’t want Christianity associated with extremists who pursue violence in the name of Christianity and do not actually reflect the religion. However, the reticence to identify a specific form of extremism because of a religious reference seems short-sighted in the broader effort to address the resulting violence and terrorism. What we need to recognize is that fighting religious extremism is not fighting religion.
Since September 11, 2001, terrorism is both a word and a concept that is front and center in not only government but also the daily lives of individuals and communities around the globe. Although terrorism has existed for centuries, the contemporary version of terrorism, particularly Islamist, has been a development of the past 40 years or so. While many terrorist groups and incidences currently exist, the present face of global terrorism is identified as the Islamic State (IS or ISIS). ISIS has rapidly become a focal point of both news and foreign policy not only for the U.S. but also other countries. But the question is whether ISIS presents a new brand of terrorism, requiring new approaches and new methods to address. Or, does it present more of the same of what we have experienced in the past few decades?