Terrorists Are Not Religious Extremists, They Are Just Scum

Encyclopedia Britannica defines terrorism as "the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective." In recent years, the term has been exclusively reserved for attacks carried about by Muslims anywhere for any reason.According to researchers from the University of Alabama, terrorist attacks committed by Muslims receive 357% more U.S. press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims. While the president failed to use the word terrorism or acknowledge white supremacy as a motive for the terrorist attack in Christchurch against Muslims, he immediately used the word in his first tweet about Sri Lanka. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wasted no time talking about the global threat of "Islamic terror" and the steps we must take to address it.There are several issues with how this gets politicized. For one, it amounts to incitement and contributes to a vicious cycle that endangers innocent Muslims by assigning them collective guilt. The majority of the victims of groups like ISIS are actually mainstream Muslims. The people who get blamed for the actions of groups like ISIS are also mainstream Muslims. And the hate crimes that follow are against mainstream Muslims.In Sri Lanka, Muslims have been protesting against the specific group and individuals that carried out these vicious attacks for years and reported them to the authorities on multiple occasions. Some of the casualties of the attacks were in fact Muslims. But facts don't matter to people who use fear as an intoxicating political tool. Right wing commentators, like Glenn Beck, even tried to implicate Muslims in the Notre Dame cathedral.There is another element of this that needs to be addressed. As mainstream Muslims, we have been at the forefront of combatting extremist groups and disputing their legitimacy for years. This has not come without risk. I know, because ISIS has called for my assassination personally for work I've done here in Dallas with the interfaith community.When Islamophobes, politicians, or pundits deem these groups to be "Islamic," they give them a sense of legitimacy and authority that actual Muslims do not endow them with. They make it harder for us as Muslim scholars to address these degenerates for what they are; outcast criminals. They have no claim to our text. They have no authority in our midst.My organization, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, published an infographic video this week demonstrating how extremists and Islamophobes read our scripture the same way, and fuel their agendas through each other.[1] Our response to these attacks needs to be to give these terrorists neither the authority they seek in our faiths, nor the division they seek in our communities.  Continue reading...

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