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Ghana’s media treats terrorism as a threat from outside – it overlooks violence at home

In 2022, 43% of all global terrorism deaths came about within the Sahel – the area south of the Sahara Wasteland and stretching east-west around the African continent. West Africa had recorded 1,800 terrorism attacks as of June 2023, leading to just about 4,600 deaths.

The area has additionally noticed a chain of coups, making international locations extra susceptible.

Coastal west African international locations fear about terrorism within the Sahel spilling over into their territories. It’s by contrast backdrop that discussions and statement about terrorism are going down in Ghana.

I’ve researched and analysed safety and militancy in Africa for a decade. My maximum recent research tested how terrorism is considered in Ghana in gentle of lack of confidence around the Sahel and the rustic’s popularity as an oasis of peace within the sub-region.

There was criticism of the way in which terrorism is spoken of worldwide, because of its doable to be divisive and function justification for violence by means of safety companies and the abuse of voters’ rights.

Because of this, my intention used to be to evaluate whether or not those world perceptions influenced perspectives in Ghana. I additionally aimed to grasp the protection implications of the character of the terrorism discourse.

I discovered the discourse to be contradictory, unhealthy and simplistic. It lacked a coherent theme, aside from for repeating problematic narratives and platitudes.

This type of narratives used to be the wrong concept that terrorism used to be overseas to Ghana, and now getting into the rustic. Secondly, the dialogue equated terrorism with violence involving jihadist teams. Whilst jihadist varieties of violence are provide within the area, there are other types of terrorism too – together with terrorism by states and their brokers.

Analysing information articles

I introduced a sceptical attitude to the dialogue of terrorism in Ghana by means of significantly analysing the titles of 60 on-line information articles printed between 2015 and 2022.

The titles had been sampled from a file captioned “Terror attack on Ghana” and accessed between July and September 2022. is probably the most extensively used on-line information supply in Ghana and has existed for the reason that past due Nineteen Nineties.

The titles had been decided on the usage of two standards. The primary used to be the usage of danger and possibility language. Right here, I regarded for titles that communicated area or position (for instance, Sahel, Togo, Burkina Faso), vulnerability (“porous borders”), pre-emption (“be vigilant”), othering (“strangers”) and assurance (“don’t panic”).

The opposite criterion used to be the assumed authority of the supply. I decided on titles that cited safety officers, analysts with important media presence, politicians and spiritual leaders.

The research published that the nature of the discourse used to be lopsided and gave an incomplete image of the state of safety in Ghana.

Ghana’s lost sight of tradition of violence

The discourse lost sight of Ghana’s endemic tradition of violence, together with acts by means of military teams, political assassinations and police brutality.

Lately, a number of military teams had been desirous about violent occasions in Ghana, together with election violence in 2019 that led to 2 fatalities and 18 accidents. A safety analyst has named 24 violent groups within the nation, with names like Kandahar Boys, Aluta Boys, Al Qaeda, Invincible Forces and Delta Forces.

On 16 January 2019, an investigative journalist used to be shot dead in entrance of his house in an alleged act of political assassination.

In 2020, a sitting MP and govt minister fired gunshots all the way through a voter registration workout – an act she explained used to be for her coverage. In the similar 12 months, every other MP threatened to burn down the home of a former president of Ghana.

There are lots of instances of violence by means of safety brokers, together with the police killing of 7 Muslim youths wrong for armed robbers.

Ghana’s 2020 elections – its 8th since 1992 – recorded five deaths and ratings of accidents.

Some scholars argue that extra-legal makes use of of power and violence in Ghana are because of a tradition of impunity attributable to a “systemic decapitation of the police by means of the political elite”.

Blaming the Sahel

In spite of the above terrorising acts of violence, the terrorism discourse in Ghana creates the foremost affect that terrorism and political violence are actually heading against Ghana from the Sahel.

The concern of the approaching terrorists has united “everybody” in Ghana to offer protection to the rustic. The listing comprises group vigilantes, civil society organisations, political events, trade organisations, church buildings and conventional leaders. The measures to safeguard Ghana come with counter-terrorism drills, vigilance, border safety, prophecies and prayers.

This collective nationwide effort gifts political violence from different international locations within the area as though terror occasions don’t exist inside Ghana. Commentators say that terrorism is now heading against Ghana, inflicting Ghanaians to panic and develop fearful.

3 examples display how the terrorism discourse is contradictory and simplistic – therefore misleading.

  1. Accra safe but Ghana not out of the woods – ACP Eklu” and “Government ready for terrorist attack – National Security ministry”. Those claims are contradictory. They imply Accra and Ghana are protected and hazardous concurrently.

  2. The “terrorists are in our communities, they’re our neighbours, they’re our siblings, they’re our fathers, they’re our moms”, claims an analyst. This declare is unhealthy as it will create needless social and communal pressure.

  3. Ghana is the one nation bordering Burkina Faso that has now not experienced a terrorist attack. This declare is simplistic and it’s only true if terrorism is outlined to imply “jihadist” political violence.

My conclusion is that any long term acts of terrorism and political violence in Ghana might not be the rest new. Capturing to kill all the way through elections and firing a caution shot at a polling station are acts of terrorism. Police brutality, election violence and assassinations also are acts of political violence.

Implications of the discourse

The terrorism discourse in Ghana displays how mistaken perspectives of the so-called world conflict on terror form how we take into consideration safety, even if the ones perspectives create dire penalties similar to Islamophobia and more violence.

Those lopsided narratives can alienate some communities and threaten social brotherly love. Worse, they undermine Ghana’s duty to handle lack of confidence inside the nation.

To steer clear of such issues, some scholars have argued that terrorism must be outlined to fit explicit contexts. I’ve made a similar argument in other places that terrorism is a procedure slightly than an match.

This avoids the dangers of a single story about terrorism and political violence usually. Particularly, it creates a conducive atmosphere for answers that sustainably safe Ghana and its voters.



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