Terror has no religion
By Chidi Emmanuel
The ferocious attack in Norway that has claimed 91 lives so far has grabbed the headlines of almost all the major print, radio and television news media. Interestingly and surprisingly, however, one phrase is invariably missing from the headlines and most commentaries – ‘terror attack.’ Many newspapers and other news channels are shying away from calling this a terror attack. The attacks have rather been described as massacre, bloody, deadly, cruel, brutal, etc., but not as terrorism. The reason is not farfetched. Initial speculation after the Oslo blast had focused on Islamist militant groups.
The focus of conjecture during and after the mayhem was on the attacker’s identity. This time, however, to everyone’s chagrin, names like Hussein, Abdul, Mohammed, Yusuf, Osama, Zawahiri, Ahmed etc were missing. The arrest of Anders Behring Breivik - a 32-year-old ethnic Norwegian, whom police have described as a “fundamentalist Christian,” brought a fundamental shift in the reporting and the news coverage. With this description, the Norwegian security operatives are a little bit relaxed, having ruled out any foreign, Islamists links. According to reports, Breivik has reportedly been charged with a killing spree and the bombing of government buildings in Oslo (but not for terror activities).
“These people [Muslims] are back again - hitting Norway very hard this time,” said a friend in Sweden, calling to inform me of the attacks. Terrorism has no religion. It is rather a product of an ungodly mindset. Also, people do use religion to cause mayhem - claiming to be fighting in the name of or on behalf of their god. We should not let our emotions overcome our judgment and understanding. There is no religious book that does not condemn act of violence and terrorism. Every God-fearing person of any religion would condemn terrorist acts, regardless of the terrorist’s color, race, nationality or religious background.
Media can change people’s opinions because they have access to people, which gives them a lot of strength. This strength can be used constructively by informing and educating people - and destructively by inciting and misleading them. While any attack by a Muslim is branded ‘a terror attack’ and the Muslim a terrorist, an attack by a non-Muslim is called a killing spree and the non-Muslim a gunman or a disgruntled far-right extremist.