Thursday, June 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim”

Right? Western media seem to think that the word ‘terrorist’ is interchangeable with the word ‘Muslim’, with no one seeming to question the validity of this. This assumption is leading to a whole religion being demonised. An example of this, is how after the Paris attacks, there were calls for British Muslims to condemn the extremists publicly. While, I’m sure, British Muslims do condemn terrorism, it is not reasonable to demand they state this publicly, in the same way it is not expected that Christians should publicly condemn the attacks.

It isn’t just our media that is churning these lies, but our politicians too. Nigel Farage stated that British Muslims have a ‘split of loyalties’ between the ‘British way of life and the conservative strains of the religion’. But this surely implies that every Muslim is vulnerable to extremism and are, therefore, capable of committing these monstrous acts. There also has been the development of ‘Pegida UK’ which is a UK branch of a German anti-immigration party. The new leader of Pegida UK, Tommy Robinson, has called on the government to ban all Muslim immigration to the UK for five years, and wishes to impose a five-year ban on the construction of any mosque in the UK. Although Robinson was born Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he could also be referred to as the Donald Trump of the UK.  Don’t lose all faith in humanity – the group has also been criticised as having “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts” showing at least some of us realise the evil nature of the organisation.

The reason we have this depiction that all terrorists are Muslim could be a result of how we never refer to white mass murderers as terrorists. After the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the shooter, Dylann Roof, was referred to as ‘a lone wolf’ or ‘crazy’, ignoring his blatantly racist agenda to perpetrate an act of terrorism. The refusal to accept that a white, Christian man could be a terrorist is not only shocking but delusional as, according to the FBI, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks in the United States are committed by while, male Christians. Let us not forget that the IRA killed over 1800 people in the 1960s through their terrorist attacks and they were Catholics. IS terrorists are certainly not the first group to exploit religion to justify evil actions.

So what exactly is the issue with this assumption? In addition to it being blatantly racist and putting nothing but hatred out into the world, these views can actually have quite serious consequences. When we ostracise a whole religious group, we are suggesting that 2.7 million people are all the same and think all of the same things because of their religion. It is doubtful that people would make the same broad generalisation with the 33.3 million Christians in the UK. This promotes the ignorant belief that people who have nothing in common except faith, somehow share the same mind.  These negative opinions also mean that young vulnerable Muslims are rejected by society making them more susceptible to radicalisation by these terrorist organisations.

It is important to remember that while not all Muslims are terrorists, not all terrorists are Muslim either.