This is a published article. You will find moose here .
What constitutes terrorism? The answer is simple: use threat or actual violence as a means to a political end.
The notoriety of terrorist attacks perpetrated over the last decades by extremist Islamist ideologies, coupled with a lack of consistency in the definition of terrorism, has not only generated widespread animosity towards Muslims, but has also limited the understanding of the term by the public.
More importantly, it has served to neglect the emergence of an equally dangerous extremist ideology but also of similar terrorist attacks: those inspired by the extreme right.
Islamist terrorism is fueled by the political ideology of Islamism, mingled with a salafist jihadist interpretation of Islam. However, for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim, several politicians used terms such as “terrorism inspired by al-Qaeda” or simply “terrorism”, to seek to avoid confrontation with non-extremist Muslims in not not naming the Islamist ideology.
The consequences of this negligence have been numerous. Beyond the rapid resurgence of anti-Muslim fanaticism, the resulting public discourse has revealed disastrous double standards, showing many people unconsciously unable to deal with terrorism in a form different from that of Islamist terrorism.
This week, Thomas Mair, a far-right Hitler-obsessed terrorist, was sentenced for the murder of a British MP, Jo Cox. The MP, concerned by the suffering of Syrian civilians and in favor of welcoming migrants and cooperation with international institutions, was stabbed and shot while Thomas Mair shouted “Death to traitors”.
Similarly, supporters of the Islamic State, motivated by the creation of a state and the application of a version of Sharia law, execute Muslims because they are not Muslim enough, and non-Muslims for their different beliefs.
Both the extreme right and Islamist extremism are driven by dehumanizing political ideologies, advocating hatred and seeking to purify the society of people who do not think like them. In the wake of the murder of Cox, Mair was publicly labeled of all the names, from the Nazi to the “far right madman”. If an extremist executes an unbeliever by shouting “Allah Akbar”, how should we react?
Mair may have been pushed by Nazi ideologies, but the political purpose behind his action confirms the terrorist nature of his crime: he must be labeled as such. The language used by Islamist or far-right terrorists is similar, their crimes are similar, the ideologies behind these crimes have similar components. Yet some public discourses seem reluctant to use the term terrorism when the act is motivated by ideologies other than Islamist.
This biased perception is also reflected in the debates on the British “Prevent” strategy, designed to prevent terrorist attacks in the UK, widely labeled as anti-Muslim and some (wrongly) believe in participating in Islamist extremism. . Yet the fact is that in some parts of the UK, more people in the ‘Channel’ deradicalisation program were extremist right-wing extremists than Islamist extremists.
If public discourse always links terrorism to Islamist atrocities, how can one reject the idea that all terrorists are Muslims or that all Muslims are potential terrorists? By not being consistent, we feed the Islamist discourse that the West hates Islam and vice versa.
Moreover, by not recognizing the extremist nature of white supremacism, far-right ideologies, and failing to expose their parallels with Islamist extremism, we ignore the seriousness of the growing problem of the far right.
If we do not pay attention to the reciprocity of the models of radicalization, we directly create fertile ground for extremist right extremist ideology. Reciprocity, showing that both extremisms are stimulated by each other, confirms that we can not fight one without challenging the other.
It is therefore imperative to discuss the politics that drive extremist ideologies to terrorism, whether Islamist or far-right ideologies. This would allow us not only to distinguish all Muslims from Islamist extremism and thereby limit the growing hatred towards them, but also to prevent parallel extremist ideologies from becoming more rooted.
We must understand very quickly that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two and that they feed on each other. Double standards must be addressed so that recruiters can no longer manipulate perceptions.
Only then can we begin to treat all forms of terrorism in a coherent manner, so that the perpetrators of these acts can be brought to justice and words are well chosen within our societies.