Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
1 July 2016
June 12 shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando in which 49 people were killed
and more than four dozen injured, a debate has emerged as to whether such
attacks should be called Islamic terrorism. Statements issued by U.S. President
Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the Orlando shooting scrupulously
avoided mentioning "Islam" or any connection to the religion of Omar
Mateen, the American citizen of Afghan origin who attacked the gay nightclub.
Generally speaking, writers, politicians, activists and journalists of
Left-Liberal ideological persuasion do not want to associate such acts of
terror with Islam.
attitude is despite the fact that during the course of the Orlando shooting,
Omar Mateen called the emergency phone number 911 and declared his allegiance
to the jihadist terror group Islamic State, or ISIS. After the shooting, the
Obama government released the transcript of Omar Mateen's 911 telephone call
but removed references to Islam or ISIS. This created a political furore in
America, forcing the government to issue the transcripts of his telephone call
in full. In the call he said in Arabic, "I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr
Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, on behalf of the Islamic State."
post-9/11 years, several terms have emerged to describe this specific type of
terrorism: Islamic terrorism, jihadist terrorism, Islamist terrorism, radical
Islam, political Islam, extremist Islam, and so on. Such terms have their
purpose: they help the Western leaders avoid referring to Islam in the fear of
backlash from Muslim communities. However, critics have argued that if you are
afflicted with cancer and a doctor does not want to call it by its actual name,
he cannot prescribe the right medicine or treat the disease. Such critics have argued
that this type of terror is connected to Islamic teachings and therefore there
is an urgent need for reform in Islam.
debates about the need for Islamic reform are underway, it remains a valid
question to discuss whether such terrorism by Muslims should be called Islamic
terrorism or Jihadi terrorism, or something else. Here are some key arguments
on this debate. One, the terms like "Islamic" or "jihadist"
terrorism are used by terrorist groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the
Islamic State themselves to describe their actions. Two, these jihadist
organizations do not say that Jamaat-e-Islami founder Maulana Maududi, former
Pakistani military ruler General Ziaul Haq, or Egyptian theologian Syed Qutb
started jihad. Instead, these groups cite the verses from the Quran and
narrations of Hadith (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad) to justify their
actions. In fact, these jihadist organizations describe Prophet Muhammad as the
leader of all Mujahideen.
these organizations reject democracy and call for the imposition of Shariah
rule in non-Muslim countries and a perfect version of Shariah in Muslim
countries like Pakistan. They are therefore called jihadist, Islamist or
Islamic groups. Four, not all Muslim fighters are called jihadists. For
example, in Pakistan itself, a number of Muslim rebels fighting for the
independence of Balochistan from Pakistan are not called Islamist, Islamic or
jihadist groups because they do not stand to enforce Shariah rule. On the
contrary, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are called jihadist or Islamist groups
because they stand to enforce Islamic Shariah rule in Pakistan.
outside the Islamic world, in Northern Ireland the Protestant and the Catholic
groups were not called Christian terrorists because they were not fighting for
the imposition of Christian rule. In America, aggrieved youths or mentally ill
persons sometimes attack schools but they are not called Christian terrorists
because they do not kill in order to establish Christian rule. Six, in Sri Lanka,
fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not called Hindu
terrorists because they were fighting for freedom of the Tamil people, not for
the imposition of Hindu rule.
one point in Britain, activists were called animal rights terrorists because
they attacked laboratories where animals such as mice and monkeys were used to
test new medicines. Similarly, some attacks in Europe have been identified
correctly as "far-right Christian terrorism."
India itself, not all fighters are known as Hindu terrorists. For example,
Naxalite terrorists who are mostly Hindus have been fighting for more than 70
years but they are not called Hindu terrorists because they do not want to
impose Hindu rule. On the contrary, some members of a group called Abhinav
Bharat were called Hindu or saffron terrorists because they wanted to impose
Hindu rule in a religious sense. Similarly, the Shiv Sena has repeatedly called
for "Hindu suicide bombers" to attack Pakistan, but it is not yet
called a Hindu terror group because such a call has not so farbeen implemented
by Shiv Sena at the practical level.
motivation of a terrorist should define its name and character. Identifying a
disease by its correct name helps to give the right medicine. But if you have a
cancer and a doctor gives you the medicine for tuberculosis, it cannot work.
Let's understand it by an example: The United States knows that the terrorism
in Afghanistan is created by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) but
for the past 15 years the U.S. government has been searching for medicine in
Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. As a result, the terrorism in Afghanistan
continues to thrive.
Mateen's motivation for attacking the gay nightclub was Islam and like the
ISIS, he thought it legitimate to kill the transgenders. The government of Iran
too thinks much like him and executes Iranians for homosexuality. In Saudi
Arabia and Yemen, gays are stoned to death. Much like Omar Mateen, many Muslims
kill gay community members. For example, on May 22, Ayesha – a transgender –
was shot dead in Peshawar. In December 2013, Pakistani television reporter Uzma
Tahir raided the homes of gay community members past midnight. Uzma Tahir said:
"Allah forbid, if such children are born in your family, what will you
do?" On her programme, Pakistan's so-called rights activist Ansar Burney
expressed views similar to Omar Mateen and congratulated Uzma Tahir for
invading the homes of transgenders. We need a new enlightenment for the 21st
version of this article was published by India's largest Hindi daily Dainik
Jagran in its edition of July 1, 2016)
Tufail Ahmad is Director of South Asia Studies
Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. He is the
author of “Jihadist Threat To India – The Case For Islamic Reformation By An
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism