Terrorism is not a Muslim Monopoly Kamlesh Kumar Singh Research Scholar Deptt. of Sociology Banaras Hindu University Varanasi-221005 [email protected] com M. N. – 09369240262, 09026399178 Abstract “All Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims”. This comment, frequently heard after the Mumbai bomb blasts implies that terrorism is a Muslim specialty, if not a monopoly. The facts are very different. First there is nothing new about terrorism. The term terrorism derives from the Latin verb terrere, “to cause to tremble or quiver. It began to be used during the French Revolution, and especially after the fall of Robespierre and the “Reign of Terror”, or simply “The Terror” in which enemies of the Revolution were subjected to imprisonment, torture, and beheading, the first of many modern example of state terrorism. Sociologically, terrorist groups often recruit disaffected and alienated individuals, often motivated by strong ideologies like nationalism or religion to commit terrorist acts. These in turn generate societal fear and exacerbate conflicts and hatred within the social fabric.
Terrorism is generally defined as the killing of civilians for political reasons. Going by this definition, the British Raj referred to Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad and many other Indian freedom fighters as terrorists. These were Hindu and Sikh rather than Muslim. In 1881, anarchists killed the Russian Tsar Alexander II and 21 bystanders. In 1901, anarchists killed U. S. president McKinley as well as king Humbert I of Italy. World War I started in 1914 when anarchists killed Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.
These terrorist attacks were not Muslim. Guerrilla Fighters from Mao Zedong to Ho Chi Menh and Fidel Castro killed civilians during their revolutionary campaigns. They too were called terrorists until they triumphed. Nothing Muslim about them. In Palestine, after world war second II, Jewish groups (The Haganah, Irgun, and stern Gang) fought for the creation of a Jewish state, bombing hotels and installations and killing Civilians. The British, who even governed Palestine, rightly called these Jewish groups’ terrorists.
Many of these terrorists latter became leaders of independent Israel. Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon. Ironically, these former terrorists then lambasted terrorism, applying this level only to Arabs fighting for the very same nationhood that the Jews had fought for earlier. In Germany in 1968-92, the Badar-Meinhoff Gang killed dozens, including the head of Treuhand, the German Privatization agency. In Italy, the Red Brigade kidnapped and killed Aldo Moro, Former prime minister.
In 1970, the popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked three western Jetliners. The groups forced the planes to land in the Jordanian desert, and then blew up the planes in an incident. In 1972, Palestinian gunmen from the same movement stunned the world when they took Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic Games. The Japanese Red Army was an Asian Version of this. Japan was also the home of Aum Shinrikyo, a Buddhist cult that tried to kill thousands in the Tokyo metro system using nerve gas in 1995.
In 1975, an OPEC (organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries) meeting was disrupted in Vienna, Austria when a terrorist group led by the notorious Carlos the Jackal entered, killing three people and wounding several in a chaotic shootout. In this case no Muslims were involved. In Europe, the Irish Republican Army has been a catholic terrorist organization for almost a century. Spain and France face a terrorist challenge from ETA, the Basque terrorist organization. In, India the militants in Kashmir are Muslim but they are only one of several militant groups.
The Punjab militants led by Bhindrawale, were Sikhs. The United Liberation Front of Assam is a Hindu terrorist group that targets
Why then is there such a widespread impression that most as all terrorists groups as Muslim? I see two reasons. First, the Indian elite keenly Follows the western media, and the west feels under attack from Islamic groups. Catholic Irish terrorists have killed for more people in Britain than Muslims, yet the subway bombings in London and Madrid are what Europeans remember today. The Badaar Meinhoff Garg , IRA and Red Brigades no longer pose much of a threat, but after 9/11 Americans and Europeans fear that they could be hit anywhere any time.
So they focus attention on Islamic militancy. They pay little notice to other forms of terrorism in Africa, Sri Lanka or India; these pose no threat to the west. Within India, Maoists pose a far greater treat than Muslim militants in 150 districts, one-third of India’s area. But major cities feel threatened only by Muslim groups. So the national elite and media focus overwhelmingly on Muslim terrorism. Doing Ph. D. on the topic “Terrorism: A Sociological study of Victim’s Families