Yes, we should call it ‘Islamist’ terror

Fear of committing ‘Islamophobia’ must not stand in the way of accurately describing the terror threats we face.

Wasiq Wasiq

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Topics Politics UK

It was recently reported in The Times that the police could drop the terms ‘Islamist terrorism’ and ‘jihadis’ when describing terrorists who claim Islam as their motive. The request came from the National Association of Muslim Police at an online event – addressed by assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the national head of counterterrorism policing – as well as academics, experts, advocacy groups and survivors of terrorist attacks. Alternative proposals for describing Islamist terror included ‘faith-claimed terrorism’, ‘terrorism abusing religious motivations’ and ‘adherents of Osama bin Laden’s ideology’.

However, in a recent phone-in with LBC radio presenter Nick Ferrari, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed the police would not be dropping the term ‘Islamist terrorism’. This is a welcome intervention. Especially since Islamist groups – like the Muslim Brotherhood – would seek to use this as another opportunity to absolve Islam and a minority of its followers of criticism.

Definitions are important. They help us to make sense of the world around us, whether it is describing an innocuous act such as running for the train or a more sinister act like a terrorist attack. The fact of the matter is, terms that are correctly defined provide us with the framework to help guide us, particularly when certain bad-faith actors seek to muddy the waters. The public deserves to be told the truth about the perpetrators of terror attacks. We should not be told a sanitised version which seeks to protect Muslims from stigmatisation.

‘Islamist’ is the correct term to use when a group or individual seeks to implement aspects of Islam into politics. Violent Islamists are those who seek to implement Islam into politics and public institutions using physical force. This can be placed under the umbrella term of terrorism. By removing the word ‘Islam’ we remove a variable that is consistent with the aims of groups – like al-Qaeda and ISIS, which are both responsible for numerous attacks on UK soil – that seek to establish a worldwide caliphate ruled by Sharia law.

Furthermore, refusing to call these attacks Islamist diverts attention away from Islam. This would be wrong. The logic for these would-be censors is, of course, that Islam is peaceful, even if a minority of Muslims are not. This is a false logic. Islamists are, by and large, influenced by narrow interpretations of Islam, such as Salafism or Wahabism. It is these interpretations of Islam – as well as their political goals and other factors – that motivate Islamists to carry out terror attacks. To suggest that there is only one version of Islam and that it is peaceful is a lie. There is no single interpretation of Islam.

This concerted effort to sanitise language that relates to Muslims and Islam is worrying. First, you have ‘Islamophobia’, which seeks to conflate Islam with race, and which can turn criticism of anyone who happens to be a Muslim into a racist incident. And then you have those who want to drop terms like Islamist and jihadi, which would divert attention away from the faith. The only ones who benefit from this perversion of language are Islamists themselves.

Where do we go from here? We cannot bury our heads in the sand when we are faced with a deadly threat. Accurately describing it does not mean nuance is ignored. We also need to consider how we tackle it. Confusing definitions could lead to a misdiagnosis of the problem. We might end up looking to cure it with the wrong antidote. This will cause problems for deradicalisation programmes and anti-extremism policies.

Our primary concern must be the victims of Islamist-inspired violence and terrorism. Our focus should not be on the imagined victims who, by virtue of being Muslim, might somehow be stigmatised and at threat because the terms ‘Islamist’ or ‘jihadi’ are used by police.

The proposal also speaks to a bigotry of low expectations. Surely the general public is more than capable of differentiating between Islamism and Islam. We need to have more confidence that the two terms are seen as distinct. And in acts of terror where the two do overlap, we need to find a way to stand up to this threat, not change the definition.

Wasiq Wasiq is an academic specialising in law and terrorism. Follow him on Twitter: @WasiqUK

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Angela White

24th July 2020 at 1:27 pm

Muslims are not demanding censorship, they are asking for consistency. If we insist on calling Muslim violence “Islamist” terror, shouldnt we also change “illegal settlements” to “Joowish illegal settlements” and the shock and awe tactic favoured by the west to an acronym of something like “The Christian and Philosophically liberal’s war to universally impose it’s “beliefs”.Read More

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 12:37 pm

Muslims are not demanding censorship, they are asking for consistency. If we insist on calling Muslim violence “Islamist” terror, shouldnt we also change “illegal settlements” to “Joowish illegal settlements” and the shock and awe tactic favoured by the west to an acronym of something like “The Christian and Philosophically liberal’s war to universally impose it’s “beliefs”.

Gareth Evans

24th July 2020 at 11:27 am

Dealing with Islamic terrorism is a complicated business. That said some elements of our response should be quite obvious by now.

One such example is not surrending to Islamist demands on how we describe their atrocities. We must scorn and debase the use of the word Islamophobia as a vital first step.

Dominic Straiton

24th July 2020 at 11:17 am

Apparrantly the Chinese are persecuting a million muslims. I dont know whats worse, the Chinese or us for allowing muslim rape gangs to rape and abuse a quarter of a million mainly English children.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 11:58 am

Quarter of a million?
Where are their parents?

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 11:59 am

And how many have been raped by non Muslims?

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 12:13 pm

Is the main reason for those being targeted “Racism” against whites or “Vulnerability” and “availability” regardless of Race?

Dominic Straiton

24th July 2020 at 1:12 pm

No wonder the government wont release the rape gang report. Im going with Dr Ella Hills numbers as she was one of the contributors and an expert as well as a victim

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 2:34 pm

Dominic,

Or because it suits your agenda.
Since when does being a victim make you an expert statistician?

Andrew Levens

24th July 2020 at 10:48 am

All religions are capable of doing harm as well as good. They are all basically cults and we should move to being a secular state, first of all by banning bishops from the Lords. Then we can treat all religions/cults equally. There is a place for religion, and many people seem drawn to it. But we should not tolerate acts, such as sexual abuse, which are against the law but tolerated by some religions and cultures. This is not a disguised attack on Islam. It covers Christianity, which also has a bad record of dealing with abuse by its own clerics.

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 11:12 am

Absolutely, it is incongruent that UK has a state religion rather than a secular society. Only 1% of those 25 or under identify with ‘C of E’ even loosely. ‘C of E’ is a state imposition with no basis in the society. The secular state should endorse no religion, regardless of how many follow it, anyway. ROI knows that but not UK.

The way forward is to disestablish the state religion and to end religious privilege; reform the second chamber to be democratically elected; get the schools off the ‘C of E’ and RCC and secularise them. The British state cannot be taken seriously as a ‘secular’ force until it gets its own house in order.

https://www.secularism.org.uk/

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 11:47 am

The crusader cross of S. George is also incongruent as the flag of a secular state. Symbols are less important than realities but it is likely that it will be replaced at some point in the future. There is no way that the British state would choose a crusader flag in this day and age.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 3:01 pm

Mor,

With respect, I disagree.
Europe is what it is, ( a great place to live with mostly great people) due to it’s Christian history.
I would by and large take a genuine, kind hearted Christian of whom there are many over Secular Liberal, Atheists.
With Secularism we might be heading towards a totalitarian state like Russia or China.

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 4:18 pm

Thanks for your opinion, I know loads of Christians and some of them are close to me but I would never dream of letting them loose with the laws of the society. We disagree about the role of Christianity in European history and about how ‘great’ Europe is but we can leave those discussion for another day.

Robin P Clarke

24th July 2020 at 10:11 am

NO we should NOT call it “Islamist” terrorism. It is ISLAMIC terrorism plain and simple. As commanded by the founding warlord and by many verses of Allah’s perfect Qur’an. “Islamist” is simply Orwellic newspeak to pretend that it it is not really genuine Islam.

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 11:00 am

You have the same approach as I S.

The three monotheistic religions all contain injunctions that we would now consider to be t errorist, eg. the OT but they tend to be modified and applied to fit with the society of the day.

China calls it the ‘Sinicization’ of religions, whereby the religions are adapted to the contemporary needs of CCP and they promote the ‘values’ and objectives of CCP, like Chinese patriotism and ‘socialist values’.

Christianity is ‘Sinicized’ in the West, ‘liberalised’ and adapted to the ‘values’ and objectives of the capitalist state. So we see people making out that Christianity supports 21st c. liberalism, which is ‘Sinicization’.

Ancient religions propose a vision of how people should live and how society should function, and modern states tolerate them in so far as they can adapt them, ‘Sinicize’ them and order them to their own objectives; otherwise they clamp down on them. China and the West are the same on that count.

The churches and many Christians are compliant to Western ‘Sinicization’ and many Muslims are too. There is no real difference on that count. Some insist that Islam cannot be ‘Sinicized’ like you and I S but only a minority of Western Muslims take that line.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 11:07 am

Such a shame that Christian evangelism has limited itself to hypocritically attacking Islam. No wonder the Mosques are full and the churches are empty and the country is full of illegitimate children and former Christian apostates.

Gareth Edward KING

24th July 2020 at 8:57 am

National Association of Muslim Police? Are there various police associations built up on identitarian lines? Better not to ask! Khan as the mayor of London, for all his faults, is not the ‘Muslim mayor of London’. Another ‘Muslim’: Mahya Tousi the Anglo-Iranian YouTuber who could be running for the capital’s mayorship, is as British as the next candidate and then there are his (conservative) politics. Full-stop.

Ed Turnbull

24th July 2020 at 9:19 am

I follow Mahyar Tousi’s work on YouTube, and I find it refreshing. Here’s a millenial who wholeheartedly eschews wokeness, is firmly pro-Brexit and a committed free marketeer. However, I’m not aware that he’s a muslim – he always describes himself as being of ‘Persian’ heritage, so perhaps his family were Zoroastrians. Furthermore the Iranian regime have banned him from entering the country, which he (rightly) wears as a badge of pride. It’ll be interesting if he does stand in the next London mayoral election.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 11:10 am

You forgot ” funded by Zionists”

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 7:12 am

Let’s take your charges against Islam individually?

1, Supremacist: Shouldnt all religions that claim to follow divine teachings be “supremacist” in one form or another?

2, Intolerant: if so, Why does its teachings and Shariah include verses like “there is no compulsion in religion” and a comprehensive set of exemptions for Non- Muslims who live in Muslim lands?

3, Theo Fascist: Why is Islam’s enforcement of ideals facsistic while philosophical Liberalism’s enforcement of set ideals (upon political liberals and conservatives) fair seeming?

Robin P Clarke

24th July 2020 at 10:07 am

There is much false equivalenting of Islam with Christianity in Bros Bros’s comment.

>”1, Supremacist: Shouldnt all religions that claim to follow divine teachings be “supremacist” in one form or another?”

The Qur’an explicitly commands its followers to impose Islam by force on the disbelievers, “until all religion is for Allah”. The teachings of Christ by contrast are entirely anti-violence, indeed not even retaliating when he gets arrested and finally killed. The Acts of the Apostles gives some account of how Christianity was spread by peaceful persuasion, in total contrast to the Jihad conquests that spread out from Arabia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_To-cV94Bo

>”2, Intolerant: if so, Why does its teachings and Shariah include verses like “there is no compulsion in religion”

“There is no compulsion in religion” is not a command or indication of tolerance, it is simply a statement of the fact that when the founding warlord put his sword to someone’s neck, they would still not renounce their beliefs. There is no shortage of Qur’an verses which do command violence against people entirely solely because they are disbelievers. And in fact the founding warlord is on record as having ordered numerous assassinations of his critics, and even personally beheading 600 of the Quraisah tribe himself.

>”and a comprehensive set of exemptions for Non- Muslims who live in Muslim lands?

No such thing, except insofar as Dhimmis are somewhat tolerated as long as they pay the Jizya tax with sufficient demeaning humility.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 11:01 am

Robin.

I didnt even mention Christianity. I hate to break the news to you but Christianity in any meaningful way is dead in Britain. Liberalism, Feminism and Atheism are the religions (set of ideas) of the day.
So I dont really need to mention that Christians DO believe that the Old testament with its verses about smashing baby’s skulls were revealed by God, or the its peaceful history from crusades to to the War on Terror ( including the starvation of 500,000 babies in Iraq) which was orchestrated by the Christian right in America, but I’ll do it as a favour
Mate, Christians need to work a lot harder on the ground and stand by the courage of their convictions, (be prepared and honoured to be labelled as a bigot by duplicitous liberals, feminists etc ) before you are worthy of a seat on this debating table.

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 10:11 am

> 3, Theo Fascist: Why is Islam’s enforcement of ideals facsistic while philosophical Liberalism’s enforcement of set ideals (upon political liberals and conservatives) fair seeming? <

Bingo, all 'morality' tends to be 'authoritarian' and it becomes so as soon as any authority and imposition are joined to the injunction. 'Ought' says how people ought to be, and it tends to be combined with 'thou shalt/ not'. PC, Woke, it is all authoritarian.

Indeed all law is authoritarian, moreover laws are not democratically decided in UK, judges and governments decide them, not the demos. Polls have established majority support for various laws and legalisations that the state outright refuses to implement.

Western 'liberal democracy' is an exercise in how to maintain the pretence of freedom and democracy while imposing the 'values' and objectives of the capitalist state.

The only real difference between s haria and Western liberalism is that the former is more honest about itself. To live in the West is to live one's life amid a farce – which is not to say that s haria is preferable.

Tom Beale

24th July 2020 at 10:44 am

No compulsion in Islam? How do we explain the various Muslim states that have the death penalty for apostasy and homosexuality??

Andrew Mawdsley

24th July 2020 at 12:27 pm

Bros Bro. Mayhar Tousi – Funded by Zionists you say. I subscribe to his channel and I think all religion is ridiculous (praying to a fella because you’re too weak willed to manage your own life seems slightly peculiar but whatever, it’s a free country). Presumably you’re slagging him off because he doesn’t agree with you? That seems very in keeping with Islamist apologism and a desire to try and control a narrative.

Personally, your religion is your own, but as with all of it, stop trying to ram it down other peoples throats. Particularly when most people don’t give a toss and would just prefer to be able to live in peace without fear of having a knife thrust into them by an arsehole with a religious axe to grind, regardless of which made up entity they claim to be doing it for.

Andy Paul

24th July 2020 at 6:22 am

The progressives and political class seem, on a collective basis, to have decided that Islam and its adherents get a free pass and warrant some form of special protection ignoring the reality that Islam is an intolerant, supremacist, theo-fascist ideology that makes a lot of claims for itself and assumes a good many entitlements; the liberal fellow travellers are enabling it. If Islam makes many further inroads into Western society we will be in deep trouble.

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 7:13 am

Let’s take your charges against Islam individually?

1, Supremacist: Shouldnt all religions that claim to follow divine teachings be “supremacist” in one form or another?

2, Intolerant: if so, Why does its teachings and Shariah include verses like “there is no compulsion in religion” and a comprehensive set of exemptions for Non- Muslims who live in Muslim lands?

3, Theo Fascist: Why is Islam’s enforcement of ideals facsistic while philosophical Liberalism’s enforcement of set ideals (upon political liberals and conservatives) fair seeming?

Andy Paul

24th July 2020 at 10:25 am

No compulsion in religion? All very worthy but complete cant, just ask the Jews and Christians in the Middle East, assuming you can find many outside of Israel. Or ask the Hindus in Pakistan whose temples are regularly attacked and destroyed and worshippers regularly beaten or worse

Mor Vir

24th July 2020 at 10:44 am

Indeed, all religions are supremacist when they can be.

The quote below is the medieval Pope asserting that civil powers (‘swords’) are subject to the church and impose its will on all people, and that all who do not submit to the Pope will be damned.

> We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords‘ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard‘ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

https://www.papalencyclicals.net/Bon08/B8unam.htm

Bros Bro

24th July 2020 at 5:33 am

What is the best way to defend an “Islamophobic” or ” “racist” norm? Get a Muslim schill or a bl ack shill to write the article of course.

If Right wing commentators and their pet Mus lim shills are so concerned about defeating those who wish to cause us unimaginable carnage, why unduly crown them with terms that almost all of their fellow adherents including scholars and academics (who abhor their actions) do not believe they deserve.

When it comes to ISIS, politicians and pundits do not focus on geopolitical or economic factors that could decidedly explain that group’s politics. Rather, commentators do not hesitate to associate IS IS’s actions with the religion of Islam, calling them “Islamic militants,” “Islamic terrorists,” etc., and then requiring non-affiliated Muslims around the world to nonetheless denounce and apologize for the existence and actions of IS IS.

Well, if that is fair game, why shouldn’t all the slaughter and destruction due to the continued occupation and attack on Muslim countries be attributed to liberalism? If ISIS acts “in the name of Islam,” why can we not say that Western nations have unleashed all manner of carnage and death in the name of freedom, democracy, human rights, etc.? Why shouldn’t believers of the liberal humanist tradition issue statements and open letters denouncing the brutality committed in their name?

Bastard Man

24th July 2020 at 12:26 am

Muslim terrorsim (the Islamic nonsense is silly, you don’t call Christian Fundamentalism Jesusist Fundamentalism) is indeed an issue, and one mostly due to the fact that the powers that be imported people who have lived most of their lives as their ancestors did in rural valleys and town away from people with a few decades of modernism to the rest of the world under the misbelief that all humans are the same and access to McDonalds and a pub is all they needed to devoid people of their culture. Wow. Didn’t work. Shocking. And don’t give me that ‘oh but it’s a new phenomenon’ nonsense. Sure, cities and ports and the wealthy urbanites liked western culture in the 19th and 20th century. They were the ones exposed to it. And all for what, to prop up rubbish pension plans that the government will raid anyway? Madness.

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