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We all know of the current situation regarding the high security in Ethiopia. The government is constantly warning people to keep alert for such things that seem out of place and report it to the police.
These days when you enter a building or, in some cases, well known restaurants, guards are right there to do their jobs properly. In places where they do not have metal detectors, hand searches will be the next option.
Sometimes when searched, you can’t help but feel like a piece of package; looking at each item in your bag, your pocket and then move on to the full body search where they do some pocking and grabbing at different body parts. It’s all up-close and personal.
People can’t help but feel frustrated when being searched at different entrances, they are told to turn on their cell phones and laptops, if they are carrying one. The whole thing is seen as a huge inconvenience. I myself would have been annoyed by this if it was a few months back, but now I understand the situation.
I understand the precaution authorities and people need to take for the safety of the public. And so I stand there to be searched without any objection. But not everybody feels like me.
I have run into a couple of situations where people absolutely refused to be touched or even take out the items in their bag for the guards to see.
I saw a foreigner and a guard almost get into a fist fight because the man did not want to take out all the items from his bag for the guard to see.This is not because he was carrying explosives or some sort of weaponry, but because he simply had too many items in there and he didn’t want to deal with the task of taking them out and putting them back in.
After some gesture communication, as there was a language barrier, the guard became completely annoyed and the situation got even worse. Although the whole thing was finally resolved, after watching that, I could not help but wonder if that foreigner would be as hesitant to reveal what was in his bag if he was in a similar situation in his own country; a country targeted by a terrorist group where an attack was more likely to happen. Chances are he would be more than willing.
In giving this example by no means am I trying to generalize about the behavior of the foreign community in the country. But I will say this: some do expect to be treated differently in some situations. But just because you have a different skin color or speak a different language, you should not expect to be treated any differently than the locals or that you are somehow immune to a possible attack. The situation does not allow favors.
I believe that terrorism brings destruction on a very different level than other disasters, including war. It has the power to change a person’s core beliefs as well as a society’s long-lived perceptions about everything, and I mean absolutely everything.
It is a terrible phenomenon that puts into question everything that makes a person who he/she is; be it in terms of religion, nationality or above all humanity.
The effect of terrorism goes beyond the bomb blasts, the death toll, property damage and economic breakdown. The most powerful weapon of terrorism is not its bombs and AK47’s, but the fear that it creates. Fear slithers into your conscious slowly changing you, telling you to be suspicious and not trust the other. There is nothing more crippling and harmful to a society than fear in my belief.
Let’s all take the necessary measures to stay out of harms, let’s cooperate with whoever we need to cooperate with, let’s be patient when we are being body searched and understand that it is in everybody’s best interest.
Most importantly, let us not let fear change our good nature, good culture and unity