129 people have died in Paris this weekend as a result of a supposed ‘Islamist’ attack. Many news outlets have been reporting about how a group of ‘Islamist extremists’ are the cause of this horrific loss of life. Is it right to label these callous murderers as Islamists? What about this attack was Islamic? I will try to show you how utterly ludicrous it is to label these attacks as being associated with Islam and more widely how it is as equally ridiculous to brand any act of terror with a religion.
No significant established religion in this world sanctions terrorist attacks. As much as some people would like to believe it, it just isn’t true. No archbishop, chief rabbi, pope, guru or caliph has ever, in modern times, claimed responsibility for or ordered an act of terror. Why is it that radicals brandishing a flag with Islamic writing on shouting “allahu akbar” immediately get associated with the religion of Islam, much to the anger of Muslims the world over. The people that carry out attacks in the name of Islam are clearly deranged and clearly have little idea of the main tenets of Islam. Mehdi Hassan, in an Oxford Union event, highlighted how the teachings of Islam are peaceful and promote living a peaceful life. Sceptical readers at this point are likely to point out certain passages in the Qur’an that appear to condone rape and other non-peaceful acts, however this is a common feature of many religious texts. The bible, for example, contains numerous violent verses, this does not mean that Christianity is a violent religion but merely that there are passages from which a wider meaning can be gathered. IS are to Islam what the KKK are to Christianity so why don’t we associate the lynching of a black man by the KKK with a Christian act of terror? It’s because there is nothing Christian about the KKK and nothing Muslim about IS.
So how do you solve the problem? The first port of call is eradicating the term from journalists’ vocabulary. It has got to the stage where it would seem strange if the word extremist was mentioned without being preceded by Islamist, which is problem because it both entrenches divides in society by linking terrorism to a significant tranche of our population and falsely blames a whole religion for what are the actions of a few radicals calming to be acting in the name of god. Secondly, more Muslims should be denouncing these acts publicly. Whilst it is not my view, it is certainly the sentiment of others that many Muslims are quietly condoning these acts of terror by not voicing their opposition to them. Our thoughts should be focussed on how we can prevent radicalisation and how we can reduce the risk of such an attack happening on our own soil. Bombing the middle east to shreds probably won’t do much.