CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Imaging terror

Why would a Muslim man in Hong Kong advertise his story under the title, I’m a Muslim, but I’m not a terrorist, at an afternoon sponsored by the non-government organisation, Unison, to mark the Elimination of Discrimination and Racial Prejudice Day?

After all, it is not so long since predominately Muslim Middle Eastern cities were characterised as centres of erotic curiosity and hedonistic pleasure capable of satisfying almost any sensual desire.

But with the emergence of the Islamic State, Muslims, by extension, have become tarred with the terror stigma, freely described as savages, animals and brutes.

As a result, our Muslim friend, a peaceful, law-abiding resident of Hong Kong, finds himself subject to suspicion and fear.

In 2012, the Muslim community in Hong Kong took to Chater Garden to express its disgust with the movie, The Innocence of Muslims, which depicts them as a pillaging murderous mob.

Suspicions were raised in the city that the day may turn violent. But why should a group of people that has lived peacefully in coexistence with many others in Hong Kong for over a century be the subject of such suspicion?

In recent months, the media has been saturated with events such as the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore, Pakistan; and the March 22 attack on the airport and subway station in Brussels; as well as others in Iraq; Lebanon and various places dating back to Nine/Eleven 2001 in New York.

However, our friend in Hong Kong says being Muslim does not equate to being a terrorist. And he is right, but maybe a more salient fact is that Muslims are not responsible for all terrorist attacks.

Europol statistics show that between 2011 and 2014 there were 746 terrorist attacks in Europe, only eight of which were religiously inspired, one per cent of the total, and not all were perpetrated by Muslims.

The year 2013 saw 152 attacks. Two had a religious motivation, the rest were inspired by ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

The Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism carried out in the United States of America (US) documented 2,400 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2012—60 by Islamist groups—or 2.5 per cent.

A University of North Carolina study, Muslim-American Terrorism in 2013, found there is more likelihood of dying from a falling refrigerator than a terrorist attack. Nevertheless, people show no fear of whitegoods shops.

Ninety-four per cent of these attacks were staged by non-Muslims.

If Donald Trump wants to get serious about protecting Americans, he may be better off deporting refrigerators rather than Muslims or Mexicans!

Compared with the 190,000 murders the US has seen since Nine/Eleven 2001, terrorism becomes an extremely small danger, accounting for only 37 deaths. More people have died from accidental shootings by toddlers.

Like murder, terrorism is a terrible evil and the graphic images of the mass destruction and the gruesome wounds it inflicts, as well as the sensationalism of media leave a deeper impression on the human psyche than a succession of isolated reports of individual murders.

In past decades we have seen two images of Muslims projected, both inaccurate, both prejudicial and neither helpful in understanding reality.

 

Of course our Muslim friend is not a terrorist and nothing rational could suggest he is. JiM