OPINION

The Massacre at CHRISTCHURCH

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An Eye Opener for whole world

By: Shabir Ahmad

In the deadliest terror attacks in New Zealand, 49 people were killed and more than 20 seriously injured in two mosques in Christchurch, when people were offering their Friday Salah. The attack soon attracted the global attraction. The Political and religious leaders from across the world have including Turkey, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Jordan ,Qatar, Malaysia, United Nations, Lebanon, Egypt, Indonesia, OIC, Germany and Australia expressed their condemnation. While, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as one of her country’s ‘darkest days’, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, called it Islamophobia. US President, Donald Trump said,”I did not see it. I did not see it, but I think it’s a horrible event, it’s a horrible thing”. The UN Security Council condemned the mass shootings in Christchurch as “heinous and cowardly” and said acts of “terrorism” were criminal and unjustifiable. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the deadly attack on the mosques, describing the incidents as “the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”

The attack is an eye opener for all those nations and religions which describe Islam as terrorism and Muslims as terrorists. Islam is strongly against terrorism and favours peace in all circumstances.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US, Islam has become central to debates about social cohesion and national security in the world.Confronted with this reality, the media are playing an essential role in informing us about Islam and influencing how we respond. But, perhaps due to a limited understanding of Islam, media report misleading interpretation of jihad  and the Western news media reinforce the perceived connection between Islam and terrorism. In some cases, media pundits explicitly make this link, pointing to the fact terrorists specifically refer to “Islam” as the basis for their actions.

Terrorist attacks often dominate news coverage as reporters seek to provide the public with information. Yet, not all incidents receive equal attention. Why do some terrorist attacks receive more media coverage than others? We argue that perpetrator religion is the largest predictor of news coverage, while target type, being arrested, and fatalities will also impact coverage. We examined news coverage from LexisNexis Academic and CNN.com for all terrorist attacks in the United States between 2006 and 2015 (N=136). Controlling for target type, fatalities, and being arrested, attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 357% more coverage than other attacks. Our results are robust against a number of counterarguments. The disparities in news coverage of attacks based on the perpetrator’s religion may explain why members of the public tend to fear the “Muslim terrorist” while ignoring other threats. More representative coverage could help to bring public perception in line with reality.

Let me try to brief you about the other terror attacks that were carried out by non Muslims. Off course, these attacks were described as mass shootings because of non Muslim involvement. An FBI report showed that Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil.On August 14, 2007, four coordinated suicide bomb attacks detonated in the Yazidi towns of Til Ezer (al-Qahtaniyah) and Siba Sheikh Khidir (al-Jazirah), near Mosul in Iraq.The Iraqi Red Crescent estimated that the bombs killed at least 500 and wounded 1,500 people, making this the Iraq War’s most deadly car bomb attack. It is also the sixth deadliest act of terrorism in history, following behind the 14 October 2017 Mogadishu bombings in Somalia, the 1990 massacre of Sri Lankan Police officers in Sri Lanka, the 2008 Christmas massacres in Uganda, the 2014 Camp Speicher massacre in Iraq.

In India , there is a saffron terror which has carried out many attacks and riots in the country. Forinstance 2006MalegaonBlast, Mecca Masjid Bombing Hyderabad, Samjhauta Express Bombings and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah Blast, Gujarat Violence,Muzafarnagar Violence, Babri Masjid Violence and many other incidents. The RSS has been making terror in the name of religion upon the minorities in the country.The radical organisation regard Cow as their ‘Gav Mata’ while being the biggest exporter of beef and leather.

Today, terrorism is quickly linked with religion – to be more precise, with Islam – but is there really a connection? When a terrorist attack occurs in the Western world, the media is quick to talk about ‘Islamist extremists’, ‘religious fundamentalists’, ‘Muslim terrorists’ and other terms coined to ‘othering’ a religious identity and culture and conveniently links a whole religion to violence. As a result, it’s likely that more and more people believe Islam is fundamentally at odds with the ideals of pluralism, co-existence and tolerance.

‘Islamist terror’-a misleading term that was consciously coined to brand make a sweeping generalization that all Muslims are either terrorists or sympathisers of it. But the unfortunate incident at Christchurch has unfolded new information regarding the definitions of terror and also the notion of a particular community being terrorists. It just brought to the fore that terrorism does not and cannot be associated with any faith or religion and is infact a disease, a plague that needs to be fought in every shade and colour that it comes in.

So, is there a systematic link between a particular religious belief and terrorism? To answer this question, it is useful to dissect the implied link between Islam and terrorism; and once we consider the facts rather than the stereotypes, the results are surprising.For example, the share of Muslims in the global population is approximately 24 per cent; however, only about 10.3 per cent of all terrorist attacks since 1970 have been conducted by (supposedly) Islamist-motivated groups.This share has increased recently but still remains well below 24 per cent. In addition, where a larger percentage of Muslim citizens exist in a given country, the tendency is for fewer terrorist attacks, if anything.

Put simply, if you encounter a Muslim anywhere in the world today, that person is less likely to be a terrorist than any other person belonging to any other faith. To claim that Islam is systematically related to increased terrorism is simply incorrect. It is also worth noting that the majority of the victims of ‘Islamist terror’ are actually Muslims, again doing away with the generalizations that y religious motivations instigate terrorism.

So why is the media so quick to link Islam to terrorism? Consider other, non-Islamist terrorist groups and how they are viewed: nobody would blame Christianity as a whole for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which operates mostly in Uganda and has killed an estimated 100,000 people (the group’s brutal leader, Joseph Kony, aims to establish a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments).Similarly, the self-proclaimed Army of God has been known for perpetrating antiabortion violence in the United States for decades, yet the vast majority of Christians reject the group, and its violent methods especially.

It is very clear to us, in Western countries, that the vast majority of Christians neither support the ‘LRA’ nor the ‘Army of God’. The same logic that stops us linking these groups to Christianity should stop us linking ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to Islam. However, when it comes to extremists who apparently belong to the religion of Islam, the world is quick to link the entire religious belief system to terrorism.In fact, both historically and in the present day scenario, Islamist groups have been less likely to conduct Terrorist attacks than non-Islamist groups in virtually every aspect one can consider.

There could be many reasons for this asymmetrical treatment of Christian terrorist groups versus Islamist terrorist groups; one likely explanation is simply that Westerners know Christianity much better than Islam. We simply don’t know enough about Muslims, and anything we don’t understand is always scarier than something we do.

The world needs to re-define the term ‘Terrorism’. No religion favours or supports terrorism though some western nations have the tendency to link terrorism with religion while knowing full well that a terrorist has no religion. Almost 95% of terror attacks are carried out by agencies that are either motivated by the geo-political scenarios, national shame and suppression or purely for power.

Western countries limit terrorism to South Asia because of their misinterpretation of the term and the link established by some between terrorism and religion needs to be delinked. United Nations must hold a holistic debate over the issue and all the nations must acknowledge that religion has no role in terrorism and must also not recognize freedom struggles of various occupied territories besides taking the big powers to task for their war frenzy rhetoric. To fight illegal occupation is the birth right of very state and there is a huge difference between the terror and seeking freedom.

The author is State Social Observer and writes on various contemporary issues of national and international importance and can be reached at:sahilshabir@rocketmail.com

 

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