Terrorism and fear of terror are obviously words of the same origin, and this etymological similarity depicts the nature of terrorism very well: it is intended to frighten people. And a recent incident in Strathmore University, Nairobi, shows that the plan works very well. People panic easily; often at all unprovoked, like in the incident with Ahmad Muhammad, a schoolboy who was arrested because his self-made clock was mistaken for a bomb. This shows our vulnerability and the imperfection of our security systems. Unfortunately, the fear of terrorism caused by training in preparation for a possible attack resulted in many people being injured and one person dying.
As the students of the Kenyan Strathmore University reported later at the hospital, they were completely unaware of the training. Of course, this was done on purpose to test the students‘ and workers‘ preparedness for a sudden attack. However, when people heard shots and bangs, they panicked and ran to the exits. People started to jump out of windows and some ended up severely injured. The female staff member who died of severe head trauma is reported to have thrown herself out of a window on the third floor.
This reaction is easy to understand after the November Paris attacks but it shows how unprepared and vulnerable our society is. The kind of reaction displayed by Strathmore University students and workers is called overreaction in psychology. It is the tendency towards exaggerating the potential threat because of mass media, our psychological patterns, and our disability to react properly to such kind of news.
Another problem that leads to such reaction is our attitude towards global problems, such as terrorism. We perceive them as easily removed immediately after the attack. The truth is, even if we manage to destroy some organizations, terrorism as a way of opposing the government will outlast us all. So we had better develop long-term plans for confronting terrorism, spreading awareness and reducing the fear of terrorism. The university has already been massively criticized because of its refusal to accept the responsibility for the situation, pay for the treatment of the injured or at least apologize.