Terrorists have no religion except the one they create for themselves and the creed to which they adhere serves only their purpose and nothing else.
A few days ago in the small remote town of Tyrone, Missouri, a community of about 50 people where ‘everybody knows everybody’ a ‘Christian’ terrorist unleashed his brand of terror on the town folk. In a nighttime rampage, the man killed seven people in a shooting spree that covered four homes. The terrorist, identified by police as 36-year-old Joseph Jesse Aldridge, used a handgun to kill two people each in three homes, and one person at another. All his victims were adults. At the end of his mission, the man turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. He was a white male.
The assault left the town shell-shocked. Many knew the victims and simply could not understand. Although the authorities had released details regarding the shootings and the victims, one thing they hadn’t provided and that was the motive. “No one knows except the ones that are gone now. So we’ll probably never know. It’s a dirty shame what he did. A lot of people are upset about it and hurt,” said one of his cousins.
Others speculated that the death of his mother who had died of natural causes a day before his rampage may have set this Christian terrorist on his murderous journey. His mother was reported to be a devout and God-fearing Christian who always had a Bible at her side.
A month earlier, another white terrorist decided to take out his murderous rage on three hapless students at a residential complex of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This time the victims were three American Muslims. While the US media initially played down the ‘hate crime’ issue, it soon became apparent that this terrorist’s obsession against Muslims had gone a step beyond reason.
The terrorist, Craig Stephen Hicks, a white male, perhaps revealed his hatred for everyone other than his faith. In a chilling Facebook entry before the killings, he posted “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I. But given that it doesn’t, and given the enormous harm that your religion has done in this world, I’d say that I have not only a right, but a duty, to insult it, as does every rational, thinking person on this planet.”
Now before I go any further, some readers may be squeamish about the title of my column. By reading it, the insinuation that may reach some minds would be that there are plenty of Christian terrorists about. By repeated use of the word ‘Christian’, I may have succeeded in conveying that impression. And if other writers followed suit and labelled every crime committed by a Christian by his religious affiliation, it would not take too long for Christianity to come under fire and Christianophobia would come into being. But in reality, both Aldridge and Hicks may not have been inspired by Christian teachings to embark on their mission of terrorism. They were simply terrorists.
The examples I brought up today highlight how western media quickly jumps to label terrorists who happen to be of the Islamic faith as ‘Islamic terrorists’ or ‘Muslim terrorists.’ Just as Christians may find the column title offensive, trust me, so do Muslims the world over when they read not of acts of terrorism but of the religious affiliation of the perpetrators of the crime, leaving a lasting impression in the minds of many.
Some would argue that my arguments are not convincing as Hicks and Aldridge did not go about hacking people or quoting verses from the Bible. They would then argue back citing instances where religious chants were used by murderous Muslims. My response would be plain enough. Terrorists have no religion except the religion they create for themselves and the creed by which they adhere to serves only their purpose and nothing else. No terrorist promotes causes dear to me through his actions.
Naef Al Mutawa, a Muslim creator of the superhero comic ‘The 99’ came under the scope of Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) who put out a call for his assassination for mocking the 99 names of Allah says: “What worried me aside from the tragedy and its implication for East-West relations is the insistence of some in the media that Muslims need apologise for the actions of these gangsta jihadis. That somehow, all Muslims must accept responsibility.
“I refuse to apologise for drug taking ghetto trash that decided to go gangsta in the name of the Prophet. I refuse to apologize for shoe bombers and underwear bombers who literally stunk it up for the rest of us. I refuse to take responsibility for suicide bombers and illiterate clerics who spew hatred in their respective pulpits. I will not accept to be judged as a Muslim based on the actions of the deranged, the ill-informed and the uneducated. I am no more responsible for their actions, than my Christians friends are for the actions of Anders Brevik, David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, child abusing priests and countless others. I will only be judged for my actions.”
‘What we know about terrorism comes predominately from media’, says Susan Jeffords, co-author of Covering Bin Laden. The media today is not a simply a messenger of events created elsewhere but is an active contributor to and shaper of what audiences think. By choosing to highlight the religious aspect of some twisted and murderous terrorists, they impart a great disservice to the followers of that religion.
Courtesy: Gulf News
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.