Muslims are guilty for creating a perception that we are terrorists

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1 WRTG-100 Professor: Emine Uzun Delaitsch Student: Yernur Yermek Date: 11/21/17 MUSLIMS ARE GUILTY OF CREATING A PERCEPTION THAT WE ARE ALL TERRORISTS Introduction Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the West and international attitudes about Muslims have changed drastically. This drastic shift in attitudes about Muslims has further been escalated by increasing terrorist attacks against Western nations and NonMuslims. In a majority of Christian or Non-Muslim nations, Islam and those practicing the religion are largely seen as either directly or indirectly associated with terrorism. As a result, Muslims are increasingly experiencing biases, prejudices, stereotypes, discriminations that attribute or link them to terrorism. To a large extent, many people, especially those in the west perceive Muslims as being terrorists. In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of violence, racism and harassment against Muslims especially in The United Kingdom and the United States. This perception has further been fueled by the mass media and social media coverage of events of terrorist attacks. Islam and the media have been faulted for failing to distinguish and educate the public on the difference between Islam and terrorism. However, 2 whereas the media has played a key role in increasing Non-Muslims’ negative attitude towards Islam, Muslims are guilty of creating a perception that all Muslims are terrorists. Muslim Demographics Muslims exists in all continents of the world, and the religion of Islam is practiced nearly in every country on earth. A 2009 wide-ranging demographic study conducted by Pew Research Center in over 200 countries revealed that there are nearly 1.57 billion Muslims of both genders and all ages in the globe currently. This population represents 23% of an estimated global population of 6.8. The study further reveals that even though Muslims are present in all five continents of the world, more than 60% of the world Muslim population is in Asia, whereas approximately 20% live in the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, the study also found that the Middle East-North Africa region comprises the largest percentage of Muslim-majority nations. More than half of the territories in the Middle East-North Africa region have a population that is nearly 95% Muslim or higher (Grim & Hsu, 2011). Also, over 300 million Muslims live in nations where Islam is not the mainstream religion. Interestingly, these minority Muslim populations are usually fairly wide. For example, India currently has the third-largest population of Muslims globally. Another example is China, which currently has more Muslim population that Syria, whereas the population of Muslims in Russia is higher than that of Libya and Jordan combined. Muslims can further be identified into smaller tribes or ethnicities. The study by Pew Research Center shows that of the total Muslim population, approximately 10-13% are Shia Muslims and approximately 87-90% are Sunni Muslims. Approximately 68%-80% of most Shias live in only four nations including; India, Iran and Iraq. 2.4% of the global Muslim population live in Europe while 0.3% live in America as minorities (Grim & Hsu, 2011). 3 Islam and Terrorism The connection between Islam and terrorism became a primary media argument and focused after the September 11 attacks. The media focus on the link between Islam and terrorism has created new series of culture talk. This dialogue and rage have shifted religious experience into a political perspective, distinguishing 'good Muslims" from "bad Muslims, as opposed to terrorists from law abiding citizens. The implication of this is clear especially in the attitudes and perceptions of Non-Muslims about Muslims. However, whereas terrorism even like suicide attacks is not an Islamic phenomenon by description, it cannot be overlooked that a large percentage of terrorist activities and the most distressing attacks in recent decades have been committed in the name of Islam. This statistic has fueled a major argument both in the western and inside Muslim world about the relationship between terrorist acts and the religious teachings of Islam. Whereas Islam is accepted as a peace-loving and tolerant religion, some of the terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam is appalling. The timeline for terrorist attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam is undoubtedly long and vicious. For instance, September 11, 2001, marked the largest act of terrorism ever committed in the US in the name of Islam. This was a series of four organized terrorist attacks perpetrated by the infamous al-Qaeda group at the World Trade Center. The attack was simultaneously conducted by 16 Islamic terrorists and resulted in the deaths of 2977 victims and more than 6000 fatal injuries. Since 9/11, various organized attacks and lone wolf attacks have been perpetrated by individuals in the name of Islam. In 2004, Islamic terrorists conducted simultaneous organized bombings against commuter train system in the capital Madrid. The attack resulted in 192 fatalities and more than 2000 minor and fatal injuries. Reports have revealed that the Madrid attacks were linked to al-Qaeda terrorist cells in the country. In November 2015, a series of coordinated attacks occurred in Paris France. The attack 4 was executed by three Islamic suicide bombers and resulted in the deaths of 130 victims and 413 non-fatal injuries. Other attacks have been targeted at Western cities such as London, Manchester, Berlin and London in recent years (Powell, 2011). Besides the loss and devastation of these attacks, one major debate that emerges aftermath is the narrative about the necessity to interrogate Islam, failure to hold Muslims responsible, the failure to address extremism and radicalization of youths, and the evils of political correctness. To a large extent, Muslims are often blamed and attacked for such attacks because of their religion. Despite being equally severely affected by terrorist attacks, innocent Muslims often face prejudices, violence, biases and discrimination especially in the West during attacks. These attacks, attitudes and negative perceptions about Muslims are often heightened not only by the implications of terrorism, but the media’s coverage of such events. Nonetheless, it is a fact that Muslims often suffer at the hands of terrorists. According to the United States National Counterterrorism Centre, approximately 97 percent of fatalities in the last five years have been Muslims. Studies further show that Muslims are seven times more likely than nonMuslims to be fatalities of terrorist attacks. These facts show that terrorism does not discriminate based on religion. In fact, in Muslim countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State and Taliban kill and main thousands of Muslims annually. For instance, according to the group Iraq Body Count, more than 170,000 innocent people have been killed in Iraq since the emergence of Islamic State. Similarly, since the start of the Syrian civil war, over a quarter of a million of individuals have fallen fatalities to terror. These facts further support the argument that Islam is not terrorism and that not all Muslims are terrorists. A 2007 survey by Pew Research Center conducted worldwide among majority Muslim 5 populations revealed that 93% of the world’s Islamic population condemned 9/11 attacks as baseless (Powell, 2011). Various Muslims and some leaders have played a key role in the fight against terrorism and radicalization, especially of young people in the West. Also, various Muslim organizations and nations have made various efforts and implemented strategies for fighting against terrorism. To a large extent, progress has been made in this fight. Little has been done to address the negative attitudes and perceptions of Non-Muslims against Muslims. As a result, there has been heightened tension between Muslims and Non-Muslims. This tension has led to increasing in hatred, violence and negative media coverage about Muslims and Islam (Zhirkov, Verkuyten & Weesie, 2014). However, whereas various attempts have been made to disqualify the discriminative argument that all Muslims are terrorists and the related negative perceptions, Muslims have often failed to make major attempts or efforts at discrediting the narrative. A majority of the Muslim population are to blame for the increasing perception that all Muslims are terrorists for various reasons: Muslims have failed to address religious basis for Islamic terrorism effectively Scholars argue that the Quran and its interpretations play a major role in Islamic terrorism. The link between the Quran, its interpretations and Islamic terrorism have been a matter of concern for many in the West and around the world. This is an aspect that has largely fueled Non-Muslims distrust, hatred and negative perceptions about Muslims and Islam. Unfortunately, Muslims have equally failed to sufficiently address non-Muslims concerns about the link between Islam and terrorism. According to Amritha Venkatraman (2007), “extreme religious understandings of the Quran and the movement of Islamic Revivalism inspire the development and advancement of violent Jihad in contemporary times.” Venkatraman explains 6 that Islamic “terrorists” can authenticate their organizations as an act of vicious Jihad allowed by the Quran fundamentally due to religious authorizations that approve of the use of violence as a defense mechanism and to uphold the will of Allah within Islamic societies. The Quran regulates and orders this use and links it to other features of the Shariat by its discourse on revivalism. Established on the Quranic code of ijtihad, Venkatraman argues that terrorists underscore the Quran's doctrines on vehemence and revivalism in their spiritual understandings and depict it as a legitimate ground for the use of extreme violence (Aly & Striegher, 2012). Moreover, according to ijtihad, Muslims can understand and evaluate the degree of their religious practices at a personal level provided that these acts are aimed at preserving the will of Allah within Islamic societies. In this regard, Venkatraman argues that Islamic terrorists use ijtihad to highlight Quranic tenets that permit the use of aggressive Jihad as a mechanism sanctioned and approved by God to uphold the Shariat in Islamic societies. Similarly, the pattern in which Islamic terrorists use ijtihad to interpret geopolitical forces as a basis for aggressive Jihad is influenced by their radical understandings of the Quran. These understandings further influence the degree of violence applied in a Jihad for spiritual enrichment. Venkatraman maintains that the religious acceptability of this aggression triumphs until the cause and goal of aggressive Jihad associates with the Quran's tenets on violence and revivalism. In modern times a radical understanding of the movement of Revivalism establishes the modern movement of “Islamic Revivalism.” According to Venkatraman, this “revivalism” offers a systematized ground for Islamic terrorism. If executed, this leads to differences in particular geopolitical circumstances and diverse Jihadi organizations. But, a shared interpretation of religious principles influences the degree of Revivalism in Muslim societies since this movement depends largely on the Quranic principles for its presence and violence. Hence, the religious argument for 7 Islamic terrorism is principally established when radical understandings of the Quran's doctrines on aggression and revivalism are aimed at attaining a correspondingly extreme version of Revivalism in definite geopolitical situations. Hence, Venkatraman concludes that radical Quranic and Revivalist understandings uphold the ideological determination of Islamic terrorism as a religious attempt to maintain the will of Allah in an Islamic society. Most Muslims and Islamic leaders with a vast understanding of the Quran have failed to conclusively address these Quranic doctrines and understandings that advocates for violent ijtihad and corresponding terrorism. It is this fact that influences non-Muslims’ perception and attitude towards Muslims and Islam, especially when it is evident that an attack was perpetrated in the name of Islam, by Muslim (Sing, 2016). Muslims have failed to counter mass media’s negative coverage of Muslims in the Muslim communities in the West The Muslim communities both in the Islamic world and in the Muslim community in the West have made little effort to counter negative western media coverage of Islam as terrorism. After every terrorist attack, the big western media often heighten their coverage of such attacks as Islamic attacks. The media plays an important role in society, especially in shaping the public opinion. According to Sikorski et al. (2017), “news coverage explicitly links Islam to terrorism or terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) may trigger fears in non-Muslim individuals.” Furthermore, the international media coverage on the rise and atrocities of the Islamic State has been at the forefront in nearly every corner. Also, the western media continues to report on the vast numbers of terrorist attacks, violence, tortures, murder and rape perpetrated by the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. This negative coverage has extremely influenced non-Muslims’ opinions and perceptions about Muslim and Islam (Satti, 2015). As a result, the current debates on 8 international and within the public especially in the west has focused on the narrative is a bad religion linked with terrorism. Politicians and intellectuals in the west have increasingly made the baseless arguments that Islam is terrorism. Sikorski et al. (2017) affirm that the perception advanced by the media is discriminatory because terrorism kills thousands of Muslims in Muslim majority nations such as Syria, and Quran also advocates for peace. Even though the Western media’s coverage of Muslims has been damaging, Muslims have taken insufficient actions and reforms to counter this narrative. To improve the perception of Islam among Non-Muslims, Muslims should put more emphasis on advancing the fact that Muslims suffer more from terrorism than other religions and that terrorists are radical jihadists with personal interests and as thus, do not represent Islam in any shape or form (Powell, 2011). Muslims have made little effort to educate non-Muslims on the peaceful and tolerant aspect of Islam Furthermore, Muslims have failed to undertake effective initiatives to educate and enlighten non-Muslims regarding the concepts of Islam such as peace and tolerance to correct the incorrect views of Islam maintained by many non-Muslims. Despite the increase in terrorist attacks from radical groups such as the Islamic State, the Muslim community has been at fault for not educating the public through the powerful media about the real concepts of Islam as opposed to the concepts and tenets practiced by terrorist organizations (Sides & Gross, 2013). Moreover, Muslims have been faulted for doing little to engage in community interreligious or intercultural cooperation to educate neighbors and the entire public about the teachings of Islam that advocates for peace and tolerance. There is minimal cooperation between Muslim communities with non-Muslims in an attempt to eliminate the perception that Muslims are all 9 terrorists. Instead, tensions between Muslim immigrant societies and the majority populations are escalating in most western nations. Muslim immigrants experience prejudices, intolerance and violence as long as their identity is related to their religion (Sikorski et al., 2017). It is inevitable that socioeconomic hardships of integration can only be attained by efforts between both Muslims and non-Muslims and that these hardships are not essentially related to religion as often perceived. Also, young Muslims often get radicalized due to challenges faced during socialization in the Western world. Terrorism offers such youths a false acceptance of their religion, culture and identity that is often condemned in the west. Unfortunately, Muslims have not implemented strategies to ensure smooth socialization and integration within western communities. This has created isolation between Muslim youths and their local environment, and as a result, they find fulfilment in terrorist groups such as Islamic State. Pluralism and the opportunity to advance and embrace various identities are central characteristics of the European way of life. These are aspects that most Muslim communities in the west have failed to acknowledge and embrace. Instead, some Muslims condemn the west way of life as immoral, evil and condemned by God. It is this division and lack of willingness to embrace pluralism in the western world that drives the perception that Muslims are all terrorists (Zhirkov, Verkuyten & Weesie, 2014). Some Islamic states are sponsors of terrorism Muslims are guilty for creating the perception that all Muslims are terrorists because some majority Islamic nations are known sponsors of terrorism. Besides, most Muslims often ignore their nation’s sponsor of terrorism and hence, the negative perception and attitude from non-Muslims. Islamic nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been linked to terrorism and terrorist groups. The Saudi government has been the chief financier of 10 Afghanistan’ s horrible Taliban group dating back to 1996. Also, Saudi Arabia has been faulted for providing finance to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and other organizations that have been at the forefront of attacks against Israel (Byman & Kreps, 2010). Pakistan has also been linked with facilitating Taliban’s power in Afghanistan through offering funds and arms to the group during the 1990s. Similarly, Iran has been a leading sponsor of terrorist groups in the Middle-East such as Syria. These are groups that have committed mass murders, rapes and even torture against their people and the west. State-sponsored terrorism and reluctance of Muslims around the world to condemn such acts have contributed to negative perception about Islam in the West (Byman, 2008). Conclusion In conclusion, Islam is a tolerant and peaceful religion. However, Islam continues to be linked to terrorism because of its violence-linked teachings and interpretations. Terrorist attacks in recent years have contributed to the negative perception of non-Muslims about Islam and Muslims. Some Muslims have perpetrated these attacks such as 9/11 in the name of Islam. The media coverage of such events and condemnation of Islam has also driven the public’s negative perception of Islam. However, Muslims are also to blame for the negative perception that all Muslims are terrorists. Muslims have failed to; address the religious basis of Islamic terrorism, counter mass media’s negative coverage of Muslims in the Muslim communities in the West, educate non-Muslims on the peaceful and tolerant aspect of Islam, and some Islamic nations are sponsors of terrorism. 11 References Aly, A., & Striegher, J. L. (2012). Examining the role of religion in radicalization to violent Islamist extremism. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35(12), 849-862. Byman, D. (2008). The changing nature of state sponsorship of terrorism. Byman, D., & Kreps, S. E. (2010). Agents of destruction? Applying principal-agent analysis to state-sponsored terrorism. International Studies Perspectives, 11(1), 1-18. Grim, B. J., & Hsu, B. (2011). Estimating the Global Muslim Population: Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, 7. Powell, K. A. (2011). Framing Islam: An analysis of US media coverage of terrorism since 9/11. Communication Studies, 62(1), 90-112. Satti, M. (2015). Framing the Islamic state on Al Jazeera English and the BBC websites. Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, 8(1), 37-53. Sides, J., & Gross, K. (2013). Stereotypes of Muslims and Support for the War on Terror. The Journal of Politics, 75(3), 583-598. Sing, M. (2016). Dis/connecting Islam and terror: the ‘Open Letter to Al-Baghdadi ‘and the pitfalls of condemning ISIS on Islamic grounds. Journal of Religious and Political Practice, 2(3), 296-318. Venkatraman, A. (2007). Religious basis for Islamic terrorism: The Quran and its interpretations. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 30(3), 229-248. 12 von Sikorski, C., Schmuck, D., Matthes, J., & Binder, A. (2017). “Muslims are Not Terrorists”: Islamic State Coverage, Journalistic Differentiation between Terrorism and Islam, Fear Reactions, and Attitudes toward Muslims. Mass Communication and Society, (justaccepted). Zhirkov, K., Verkuyten, M., & Weesie, J. (2014). Perceptions of world politics and support for terrorism among Muslims: Evidence from Muslim countries and Western Europe. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 31(5), 481-501.
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1

WRTG-100
Professor: Emine Uzun Delaitsch
Student: Yernur Yermek
Date: 11/21/17

MUSLIMS ARE GUILTY OF CREATING A PERCEPTION THAT WE ARE ALL
TERRORISTS
Introduction
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the West and international
attitudes about Muslims have changed drastically. This drastic shift in attitudes about Muslims
has further been escalated by increasing terrorist attacks against Western nations and NonMuslims. In a majority of Christian or Non-Muslim nations, Islam and those practicing the
religion are largely seen as either directly or indirectly associated with terrorism. As a result,
Muslims are increasingly experiencing biases, prejudices, and stereotypes, discriminations that
attribute or link them to terrorism. To a large extent, many people, especially those in the west
perceive Muslims as being terrorists. In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of
violence, racism and harassment against Muslims especially in The United Kingdom and the
United States. This perception has further been fueled by the mass media and social media
coverage of events of terrorist attacks. Islam and the media have been faulted for failing to
distinguish and educate the public on the difference between Islam and terrorism. Despite the
media fueling increased negative perceptions about Muslims, they individuals practicing the
religion similarly increase the terrorist perceptions among Non-Muslims’ through their increased
involvement in terrorism.

2

Muslim Demographics
Muslims exists in all continents of the world, and the religion of Islam is practiced nearly
in every country on earth. According to Grim and Hsu (2011), a 2009 wide-ranging demographic
study conducted by Pew Research Center in over 200 countries revealed that there are nearly
1.57 billion Muslims of both genders and all ages in the globe currently. This population
represents 23% of an estimated global population of 6.8 billion. The study further reveals that
even though Muslims are present in all five continents of the world, more than 60% of the world
Muslim population is in Asia, whereas approximately 20% live in the Middle East and North
Africa (Grim and Hsu, 2011). Grim and Hsu (2011), state that the Middle East-North Africa
region comprises the largest percentage of Muslim-majority nations. More than half of the
territories in the Middle East-North Africa region have a population that is nearly 95% Muslim
or higher.
According to Grim and Hsu (2011), over 300 million Muslims live in nations where
Islam is not the mainstream religion. Interestingly, these minority Muslim populations are
usually fairly wide. For example, India currently has the third-largest population of Muslims
globally. Another example is China, which currently has more Muslim population that Syria,
whereas the population of Muslims in Russia is higher than that of Libya and Jordan combined.
Muslims can further be identified into smaller tribes or ethnicities. The study by Pew Research
Center shows that of the total Muslim population, approximately 10-13% are Shia Muslims and
approximately 87-90% are Sunni Muslims (Grim and Hsu, 2011)). Correspondingly, Grim and
Hsu (2011) state that, approximately 68%-80% of most Shias live in only four nations including;
India, Iran and Iraq. 2.4% of the global Muslim population lives in Europe while 0.3% lives in
America as minorities.

3

Islam and Terrorism
The connection between Islam and terrorism became a primary media argument and
focused after the September 11 attacks. The attacks marked the largest act of terrorism ever
committed in the US in the name of Islam The main culprits behind the attack had Islamic
religious backgrounds and resulted in the deaths of 2977 victims and more than 6000 fatal
injuries, According to Powell (2011), reports have revealed that the Madrid attacks were linked
to al-Qaeda terrorist cells in the country. In November 2015, a series of coordinated attacks
occurred in Paris France. The attack was executed by three Islamic suicide bombers and resulted
in the deaths of 130 victims and 413 non-fatal injuries. Other attacks have been targeted at
Western cities such as London, Manchester, Berlin and London in recent years (Powell, 2011).
After the attacks, the Muslim community went from being the l...


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