The Western society is losing the most important aspect of the war on terror – the ideological aspect of it.
Terrorism is a crime and should be treated like one. If you live in the West, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the sort of terrorism that made Man Haron Monis hold people hostage in Australia is just another part of Islam or that the criminals who recently killed 17 innocent people in Paris committed that act on behalf of Muslims.
There are over 1.8 billion Muslim all over the world and it’s safe to hazard a guess that more than 99.99% of them would never fire a gun or plant a bomb yet ever since the 9/11 attacks anytime someone commits an act of terrorism and claims to be doing it on behalf of his god you start seeing phrases like “Islamic militants”, “Jihadists” and “Islamic terrorism”. In addition to that is the outdated and ill-advised “divide and conquer” strategy of referring to innocent, law-abiding Muslims as “Moderate Muslims”.
So the impression created is that if you’re a Muslim you’re either a “Moderate Muslim” or a terrorist – nothing can be further from the truth.
Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader said about the terrorist attack in Paris, “The behavior of the takfiri (apostates) groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies … who insulted the prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the prophet,”
Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and was primarily formed to offer resistance to the Israeli occupation so their leader is the last person you’d expect to condemn the terrorists yet he did not only condemn their actions he completely rejected the notion that they were Muslims.
As long as phrases like “Jihadists” and “Islamic Militants” continue to appear in newspapers and used by the electronic media Muslims will continue to feel alienated by the rest of the society.
Both the terrorists and the non-Muslim world are fighting for the hearts and minds of Muslims and it appears the terrorists are winning because as long as terrorism is linked to the religion some Muslims will continue to assume, erroneously though, that the terrorists are fighting for them.
A closer examination of the terrorists involved in recent terrorist attacks in Europe and Australia reveals that they all have criminal records or links with criminals. They started as petty thieves and unfortunately graduated into killers. During their assent, however, they sought refuge in the midst of a much maligned and marginalised sector of a Western society, a Western society mired in racism and bigotry.
To buttress the point, Rupert Murdoch, probably the most influential media personality in the Western world, responded to the Paris attack with a most ridiculous tweet, saying, “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible”.
Murdoch’s understanding of the situation is bigoted to say the least, he is directly holding Muslims responsible for the actions of a handful of criminals thereby perpetuating a myth his very successful media empire helped to create.
Time has come for Western Press and government agencies to reconsider some of the nomenclatures created after 9/11. They must start to call terrorism exactly what it is – a vicious crime that spares nobody. Muslims too are increasingly being targeted by these criminals and that trend is not showing any evidence of slowing down.