Eight arguments we use to excuse terrorism

Make it seven. For some reason, Laura McNally missed #4

By Laura McNally

Our discourse on terrorism is a bad record that has been stuck on repeat for decades. And it won’t matter whether I write this today, in a week, a month, or a year. Because with each new attack, the dialogue is only pushed deeper into discord and away from examining terror.

Flowers are laid in front of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church, after the priest Jacques Hamel was killed during a hostage-taking attack claimed by Islamic State. (Pic: AFP/Charly Triballeau)

Rather than terror attacks inciting a more thorough and informed understanding of terrorism, there is a predictable tsunami of excuse-making, victim-blaming and sidestepping of the actual issue.

While it’s great that some people believe sharia law can be interpreted in a positive way, or that Muslim people are their best friends, this is not actually addressing terrorism. This political pointscoring is increasingly blocking the public from developing better understandings of, and solutions to, terrorism.

Argument 1: Islam has nothing to do with terrorism

This kind of denial relies on the public to ignore all data on terror: the imams who preach hate, the holy texts that demand it, the statistics that show fairly significant portions of Islamic nations support terrorism, and the lists of registered terrorist groups wherein the vast majority are Islamic.

Instead, this argument relies on the theologians who insist that on some intellectual or spiritual level, their interpretation of Islam reflects peace. Certainly, that may well be their interpretation. But unfortunately that is not the reality for all followers.

A man holds a French flag as people gather to observe a minute silence on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in tribute to victims of the Nice truck attack. (Pic: AFP/Valery Hache)

Argument 2: Christianity is just as bad; it also has a history of violence

This is a tool to derail the discourse away from Islamic extremism and toward Christianity. Christianity, like all religions, has its failings and these are undeniable. However, the two religions differ in many ways.

For one, Christianity is practised mostly in countries that have reformed to separate state and church. So while Christianity has major faults including a few minor splinter groups committing violence in the US, griping about those issues during a dialogue on Islamic terrorism derails from the actual problem at hand. The critical issue is not Christianity-inspired terror attacks.

Argument 3: Muslim people are more likely to be killed in terrorism, hence terror is anti-Islam

Rather than this proving that extremists are anti-Muslim, it shows that they are anti-pluralism, believing that they are enacting the one true Islam. Whether this is actually true is debatable but unfortunately this debate is shut down by the incoherent reasoning that “terror has no religion”. This circular argument ensures we cannot move forward in examining the nuanced role of Islam in Islamic terrorism.

A bomb blast by the Islamic State group killed at least 44 people and wounded dozens in the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Qamishli on Wednesday, according to Syrian state media. (Pic: AFP/Delil Souleiman)

Argument 4: Divisiveness about Islam will inspire more recruits to join terrorist groups

If public opinion can create Islamic terrorism, this is a truly immense problem for democratic countries. After all, disagreement is at the heart of democratic politics and it very rarely results in terrorist attacks. The notion that public division inspires terrorists not only appears to be demonstrably false, it is also an effective victim-blaming tool that places responsibility for avoiding terrorism onto the public themselves.

Argument 6: Most terrorist attacks are not committed by Islamic extremists

In years gone by and in certain regions, this may have held true. Unfortunately across Europe this is no longer the case. In 2015 there were more Islamic terror cases than separatist terror attacks. Moreover, separatist terror attacks tend to have specific, predictable targets, such as political or military sites. Islamic terrorist attacks are increasingly selecting soft, random targets such as general public locations and events.

Argument 7: You are more likely to be killed driving a car, or from domestic violence

This is condescending and undermining. There are myriad reasons why people may be more fearful of terrorism than car accidents or domestic violence. For one, car accidents and domestic violence are issues that we can actively take steps to prevent as individuals, there are at least some methods and services to reduce these risks. There is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid being involved in a terror plot if we happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Telling the public they are more likely to die in a car does nothing to help increase knowledge to safeguard against terrorism.

An IS executioner reads out the charges before he brutally executes a prisoner. (Pic: Supplied)

Argument 8: Not all Muslims commit terrorism. Most Muslims are peaceful people

There is only a very small segment of the population who conflate Muslims with terrorism — Pew research says that only around 5 per cent of the UK population believes that all Muslims support IS. Moreover, the Left is often infuriated when conversations on male violence are derailed with the notion that “not all men commit violence”, yet they employ this exact approach on the topic of terror.

This ensures that we cannot focus on the small portion of people who do commit terror in the same of Islam.

Despite the increasing risk of terrorist attacks year upon year, this kind of denial and derailment has saturated the discourse. Those who speak out of line are swiftly repudiated. Our understanding of terrorism has not moved beyond this back and forth of circular arguments.

For the sake of innocent lives, we need to go beyond this horseshoe politics and find some common ground. Surely there can be agreement that terrorist threats are an urgent problem, one that requires debate, research, dialogue and discussion.

There must also be common agreement that attacks on everyday Muslim people are entirely unacceptable, creating suffering and halting progress. If people are feeling angry about the risk of terrorism, this needs to be communicated to our political leaders and not to random Muslim people on the street.

The reality is that terrorism is here. We need a collaborative and deliberative effort toward understanding this problem. This hamster wheel of denial is not making any person, of any religion, safe.

Laura McNally is a psychologist, author and PhD candidate

Actually, there are way more than eight. I have taken liberty to add a few more.

Long time poster Penny adds this:

“I’ve complied a much longer list. Poverty, “disenfranchisement” (from what?), the West’s failure to integrate them, humiliation (they can’t rule us…must be awful for them), the West’s foreign policies, “misinterpretation” of texts by terrorists (and us, of course), “hijacking” of Islam for political purpose (as if Islam were not inherently political), “mental disease”, the Crusades, colonialism, “they want to divide us” (for some mysterious reason), the Western war on Islam (as if they didn’t start it), “senselessness” (Obama’s line), Wahhabism (a popular one…Wahhabism is not true Islam, you know), we provoke them with our immorality (the “sin of provocation”)…then there’s the internet…they just chance on radical stuff and go nuts…”

Argument # 9:

“But ISIS Kills More Muslims Than Non-Muslims!”

The Islamic State does not view its victims as Muslims.  Indeed, mainstream Sunni Islam—the world’s dominant strand of Islam which ISIS adheres to—views all non-Sunnis as false Muslims; at best, they are heretics who need to submit to the “true Islam.”

But what about those Sunnis killed during the Islamic State’s jihad? These are rationalized away as “martyrs”—collateral damage—destined to enter Islam’s paradise… Keep reading

The Western Media and Muslim-on-Muslim Violence

So what about those Sunnis killed during the Islamic State’s jihad? These are rationalized away as “martyrs”—collateral damage—destined to enter Islam’s paradise.  Indeed, the topic of fellow Sunnis being killed during the jihad has been widely addressed throughout the centuries. It received a thorough analysis by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in his essay, “Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Killing of Innocents” (The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 137-171).  After delineating how three of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence—Hanafi, Shafi‘i, and Hanbali—do not forbid the accidental or inevitable killing of Muslims during the jihad, Zawahiri concluded:

The only thing mujahidin [jihadis] are specifically required to do, should they knowingly kill a Muslim [who is intermixed with the targeted infidels], is make atonement. Blood money, however, is a way out of the dispute altogether. Payment should be made only when there is a surplus of monies, which are no longer needed to fund the jihad. Again, this is only if their [Muslims] intermingling with the infidels is for a legitimate reason, such as business. And we assume that those who are killed are martyrs, and believe that what the Sheikh of Islam [Ibn Taymiyya] said about them applies: “[T]hose Muslims who are accidentally killed are martyrs; and the obligatory jihad should never be abandoned because it creates martyrs.”

But what of those Sunnis whom ISIS intentionally kills?  Here the jihadis rely on takfir, the act of one Sunni group denouncing another Sunni group of being kafir—that is, non-Muslims, infidels, whose blood can be shed with impunity.  Takfir has existed alongside Islam almost from its inception, beginning with the khawarij (Kharijites)—who ritually slaughtered Muslims for not following the letter of law—and was/is the primary rationale used to justify jihad between different Sunni nations and empires.

In short, to Sunni jihadis—not just ISIS, but al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, et al—non-Sunni peoples are all infidels and thus free game.  As for fellow Sunnis, if they die accidentally, they are martyrs (“and the obligatory jihad should never be abandoned because it creates martyrs”); and if fellow Sunnis intentionally get in the way, they are denounced as infidels and killed accordingly.

The argument that ISIS and other jihadi organizations kill fellow Muslims proves nothing.  Muslims have been slaughtering Muslims on the accusation that they are “not Islamic enough” from the start: So what can the open non-Muslim—such as the Western infidel—expect?

In the end, it’s just jihad and more jihad, for all and sundry.

 by Raymond Ibrahim

Al Qaeda also kills more Muslims than non-Muslims, but that has no impact whatsoever on the global jihad. The mafia also kills more mafiosi than non-mafiosi, the Russian and Chinese communists killed more Russians and Chinese, etc, etc. The argument sucks.

12 thoughts on “Eight arguments we use to excuse terrorism”

  1. Who kills whom is not a question!
    In 100% Muslims 80% are racist, 20% are peace followers but self claimed Muslim prophet mohamed said in Koran all Muslim has to do jihad/terrorism against non Muslim one who don’t do the same is called hipocrat, so 20% muslim who follow
    Peace also driven to racism and also
    In islam faith Koran says all Muslims are sinners they forgiven only after killing non Muslims!
    This is the real fact of islam and where does Muslim follow the peace
    Tell me my brother

  2. The mistake we make is believing that these “arguments” are about moslems and or moslam. The “arguments” are actually about the leftist world view, not moslems. The “arguments” are about the narcissism, grandiosity and sanctimony of leftists. Of course, there are probably a myriad of other neurotic psychological cling’ons in there also. They are simply the leftist world view applied to moslems who, currently, are at the top of the heap of leftist “causes”. These “causes” propagate, maintain and perpetuate the leftist world view. Leftists are emotionally retarded and moslam frightens them, so they subvert their fear into the reaction formation of “making” moslems not scary through their very own definition of moslam. Seriously, if it wasn’t about their own mental illnesses why else would they become raging maniacs when they are challenged? And, yes, they are destroying Western Civilization via moslam through their pathology. And, oh, they live out their own emotionally retarded murderous rage through the blood lust atrocities of moslems. To put it bluntly, they get off on it.

  3. 1: Islam IS terrorism, as per the clear commands for it in the Qur’an. No “personal interpretations” are allowed, either.

    2: Christianity has no official canon of violent conquest. Period.

    3: The Mafia also kills more rival-clan Mafiosis than civilians.

    4: Accusing criminals of crimes does not cause those crimes.

    5: …. er….?

    6: Correct! Most terror attacks are caused by devout muslims!

    7: Since you’ll probably die of old age, drink & drive recklessly!

    8: Most muslims are surrounded by other muslims and camels can’t swim across the ocean to get at the infidels to kill them!


  4. #5
    Muslims have contributed a lot to civilization, to science, to medicine and to mathematics. Indeed, oh ye of little faith, the word algebra is Arabic.
    This is mostly trumpeted by intelligent sounding people who do not like being challenged about what exactly those contributions are. And, if you start to suggest actual Islamic inventions, like Mohammed having sex with 9yr old girls, drinking a glass of Camel pee for a cure for malady, the largest cemetery in the world,…….these people don’t want these authentic Islamic inventions mentioned

    1. yup

      How Muslims Did Not Invent Algebra

      Enza Ferreri follows up on her earlier post about the inflated claims of Islamic contributions to science, this time tackling the topic of Islam and mathematics, specifically algebra.

      There is archaeological evidence that the roots of algebra date back to the ancient Babylonians, and were then developed in Egypt and Greece. The Chinese and especially the Indians also advanced algebra and wrote important works on the subject.


    2. This one puzzles me. Civilization has indeed been contributed to greatly by people who happened to be Muslims. But also happened to be Arabs, and it’s arguable that that the second circumstance is more relevant than the first. The argument is made that Islam, to a greater extent than Christianity certainly in the early medieval period, welcomed scientific research and discovery (of which the Church was very suspicious lest there should be a conflict with its own doctrines). I suspect this is not the whole truth, it feels like special pleading. In any case it’s a distraction from the main argument. What bothers me is the situation in which the West dare not confront Islamic doctrine, the nature of the Koran, the facts about Mohammad’s life, without fear of abuse. I have a Muslim colleague of whom I am very fond, could never pluck up the courage to say: I think your religion is rotten to the core, Mohammad was a delusional, lecherous thug, and if the Koran is the word of God he’s not a God that a decent person should want any dealings with, let’s discuss this. Because, however diplomatically I might re-word those opinions, I know we never could discuss them. And I don’t think that’s a healthy position to be in.

      1. You’re absolutely right. I have this issue too. There seems to be no way into the subject. I’m thinking about a less confrontational approach such as “how does Islam handle people who have doubts?” I have a good idea of what the answer is but it’s a way of getting into the subject without going on the offensive.

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