There’s a problem with the old liberal/secular maxim that terrorism has no religion. The problem is that this is a lie. All too frequently, precisely the contrary is true. The terrorism is dedicated in the name of religion.
One example of the hollowness of the terror-has-no-religion approach is Thursday’s attack in the dressing city of Nice where one person was once beheaded and others were reported killed and injured. According to the native mayor, the suspect was once apprehended by the police. As he was once being taken into custody, he shouted “Allah-U-Akbar.”
France has suffered egregiously by the hands of terrorists. Beheadings, mass shootings, car attacks, knife attacks — all of these have transform distressingly common. After the final terrorism attacks, the dressing President announced a crackdown on Islamist extremism. This was once met with a movement in the Muslim world (and trended on Twitter here too) to boycott France and dressing products.Sadly some influential Muslims supported this movement.
Only a buffoon could take the line that a country must not take steps to give protection to its people and to fight terrorism. To see this as anti-Muslim prejudice is just foolish or willfully blind.
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So, why do such a lot of liberals say that terrorism has no religion? Mannered, I think the sentiment springs from a noble motive. Because such a lot of the terrorism that makes headlines all over the world is conducted by Islamists, liberals hope to avert the upward thrust of anti-Muslim feeling by claiming that the actions of the terrorists were not motivated by religion.
But it is tough to argue that a man who beheads blameless people and shouts Allah-U-Akbar isn’t motivated by religion. And it is dull to claim that Islam had nothing to do with his actions when the attacker himself has no hesitation in declaring that he’s fighting for an Islamist cause.
To say, as some liberals do, that terrorists are psychopaths and would commit violent acts despite the fact that they were not motivated by religion is specious. There are just too many examples of perfectly non-violent people being led to imagine in an extreme form of devout violence and then, turning to homicide and terrorism.
So the time has come (whether it had not already come decades ago) to junk that old lie. Because terrorism does have a religion. It isn’t all the time the same religion or the same faith. Terrorists have disparate identities, religions and beliefs. But let’s not deny that terror is frequently conducted in the name of religion.
I still don’t understand why some liberals think that accepting this is so difficult. We accept it with other kinds of violence. When a communal riot takes place, do we deny that the mayhem is undertaken in the name of religion? When a man is lynched on bogus charges of slaughtering a cow, do we deny that the victim was once Muslim or that the attackers were motivated by their Hindu beliefs?
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So why must terror be different? It has a religion: all the time speak its name, it doesn’t matter what that religion is. The mistake many liberals make is to imagine that people are dull and will be easily misled. They think that whether they admit that some terrorists are Islamist fundamentalists, we can turn against each and every Muslim.
If truth be told we hear of devout violence always — riots, lynchings etc. — but we don’t conclude that everyone who shares the religion of those who conducted the violence is to blame.
We are logical enough to make such basic distinctions. We also know that fundamentalists are only too willing to also attack their own communities.
Gandhiji was once assassinated by a Hindu. That doesn’t make all Hindus wicked. In the Middle East, more Muslims die each and every week by the hands of other Muslims than have died in France all of this year. We don’t deny that the murderers were fundamentalists — or that they claimed to be acting in the name of their religion.
But by adopting this terrorism-has-no-religion position, we do damage to the communities we seek to give protection to. By obscuring a terrorist’s motives (say, Islamic fundamentalism), we not directly link him to the millions of blameless Muslims who are as horrified by what he has done. In the process, we leave the door open to charges of pseudo-secularism and appeasement.
The truth is that people have killed in the name of religion for centuries. The Crusades are just one example of devout violence. The endless battles in the Middle Ages between Catholics and Protestants were conducted in the name of religion. Yes, Islam has a violent history and possibly, a violent present.
But so what? It does not follow that 99 per cent of the world’s Muslims are violent or that the overwhelming majority of them make stronger, let alone endorse, fundamentalism or violence in the name of their religion. They’re as horrified and helpless as the remainder of us.Only a bigot would seek to link them with the actions of Islamists.
Islamist violence is likely one of the greatest problems faced by the world today. Isis, Al Qaeda, the Hizbul Mujahideen and hundreds of terrorism groups claim to act in the name of Islam. It is right to say that they’ve interpreted Islam to suit their own purposes and, in the process, perverted and distorted it.
But it is mistaken — and silly – to say that Islamist terrorism isn’t approximately a version of Islam. Instead of falling back on weak-kneed, caricature ‘secular’ responses, it’s time for all of us, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and everyone else alike, to confess that the world will have to fight the menace of Islamism without being restrained by any fallacious notion of political correctness.
Our hearts go out to the people of France. Their battle against terrorism is our battle. It’s the world’s battle. Terrorism, if in the name of religion or anything else, will have to be fought without restraint or reservation.
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