Why terrorist attacks do not foster community solidarity

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Why terrorist attacks do not foster community solidarity

Why do terrorist attacks not lead to unity in society?

According to Iran Gate, on Monday, 22nd of Mordad 1402, Shahcheragh Shrine witnessed a terrorist operation for the second time in less than a year. These recent operations, carried out by Islamic fundamentalist groups in Iran, sparked numerous reactions from Iranian users on social networks.

Generally, terrorist attacks in Iran have intensified social divisions and created vulnerable fault lines within society that can lead to internal unrest. This is in contrast to developed and even developing societies, which tend to foster solidarity and unite against threats when faced with such attacks.

However, experiences like the Shahcheragh incidents in 1401 and 1402 have shown us that such cowardly terrorist attacks have failed to bring about unity in Iranian society. What is the reason behind this, and what is the role of ideological perspectives in the prevailing unity in this regard?

I am always right.

Ideological governments always claim that they have the right and the truth, and reject any other narrative apart from the official narrative. The Islamic Republic is no exception to this, and like other totalitarian systems that rely on ideology, it always claims to possess the truth.

That’s why in similar situations of terrorist attacks, it presents a specific narrative and dismisses other narratives in general. However, this approach of ideological systems has many drawbacks and can have destructive consequences. One of these drawbacks is the fragmentation of society, which can be a way to deviate from uniformity and homogeneity when facing similar events like recent terrorist attacks.

A tragedy of a narrative.

This integrity-seeking approach of governments like the Islamic Republic causes confusion within society. Usually, the official narrative, due to its ideological approach, distances itself from reality and cannot explain all dimensions of tragedies.

However, due to limited access of the society to multiple news sources, the government cannot be a reliable narrator. It should be noted that the authenticity of news sources and information dissemination is not always verified, which leads to confusion in the society and the inability to distinguish between false and genuine narratives.

This in turn results in the initial loss of trust in the official government narrative. In the next stage, another tragedy occurs, which is severe distrust within the society when faced with atrocities that could have united people against horrific phenomena such as terrorism under normal circumstances.

And thus, the conspiracy theory was born.

Sociologists believe that conspiracy theories are a result of general mistrust towards government narratives. This issue is also quite evident in Iran and it seems that compared to most countries in the region, conspiracy theories are more prevalent and widespread in society. The reason for this is, as mentioned before, the loss of trust in official media and government sources for narrative dissemination.

They always do their own thing.

For example, in the case of the terrorist attacks carried out in the Shahcheragh Shrine, which happened for the second time in the past year, a significant portion of the society, before reading or hearing any news or analysis about it, immediately pointed fingers at the government and used the repetitive expression ‘it’s their own doing’.

This predictable reaction of the Iranian society has been observed in response to many current events in recent decades, even in other terrorist attacks such as the bombings at the Razavi Shrine on June 20, 1994, the bombing at the Hosseiniyeh of Shiraz on April 13, 2008, the bombing at the Mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder and the attack on the Parliament building on June 7, 2017, the attack on the military parade in Ahvaz on September 22, 2018, and finally the terrorist attack on the Shahcheragh Shrine on October 26, 2022, and August 13, 2023.

The government of Ebrahim Raisi does not make any effort to address such a mindset in Iranian society, and perhaps even welcomes the spread of rumors. The inference is that many protesting youth in November 2022 were afraid and refrained from continuing their presence on the streets after hearing the rumor of government involvement in the terrorist attack on Shahcheragh Shrine.

The government’s lack of action and deepening of the trust gap.

At first glance, such an argument from the government of President Raisi may seem valid. However, what is currently happening is deepening the gap of distrust between the authorities and the society, which cannot be filled or compensated for by any benefits. In fact, the intention of the Ibrahim Raisi government is to strengthen its position in suppressing protests and silencing the voices of the protesting people by spending from the social capital of the government institution.

As mentioned, such an approach will not only fail to help the legitimacy of the government but also intensify the distrust and dissatisfaction with the ruling power. It is natural that the continuation of this behavior by the Ibrahim Raisi government will cause the society to move faster towards reaching a boiling point, a movement that can no longer be prevented and will bring the Islamic Republic to a point of no return.


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