Dylan Roof was not termed a terrorist, but Omar Mateen is?

Published: June 17, 2016

In the aftermath of Orlando shooting, Muslims and Islam have come under the spotlight again. There can be no denying that there are a number of problems in the way Muslims interpret Islam and its injunctions and how these are to be implemented in the modern world – where inevitably one has to interact with people of different points of view, many of which may be antithetical to those Islamic injunctions.

The issue of dealing with the LGBTQ community is one such challenge that Muslims have to confront themselves with. Muslims have to realise that killing off people for having a different point of view or a lifestyle which contradicts our deeply held beliefs is not an option and will never be an option. You cannot wish people away or even infringe upon their individual rights simply because your personal religious sensibilities are offended.

That said, there is the other side of the coin, which this video shows.

Why is it that when Dylan Roof goes into a church guns blazing and kills African Americans simply because of the colour of their skin, he is not termed a terrorist? Why is it that the Orlando shooter, by all accounts a person with problems pertaining to repressed sexuality (he was by all accounts a homosexual himself) exacerbated by a confused ideology, immediately termed a Muslim terrorist?

This is a terrible double standard. Either all those who resort to violence and create fear through their actions are terrorists or none of them are. Mitigating factors like mental health and circumstances should be applied fairly or not applied at all. Race and religion should not be basis for profiling and differentiating between two equally horrific acts of violence.

As the video puts it, terrorism should not be defined narrowly as acts of violence committed by Muslims. If you begin with a premise that all terrorists are Muslims, it is only a short leap to then say that all Muslims are terrorists. The problem is that this is not true.

Of the 130 plus mass shootings in the United States of America this year, only three have been carried out by Muslims. These individuals form an insignificant percentage of Muslim community even in the US. To call for an across the board ban on Muslims entering the US militates against the very values that Americans want to safeguard.

A prior restraint on an entire community, many of whom are neither terrorists nor their sympathisers is unfair. What would be the criteria for this? Would having a Muslim sounding name be the basis for the ban? Only a few weeks ago, the American legend Muhammad Ali passed away. He too was a Muslim with a name that is as Muslim as it gets. His belief would never countenance mass killing of innocents. That too is Islam.

This is a turbulent time in the world. British MP Jo Cox’s horrific murder yesterday drove home the point that violence is not the exclusive preserve of any religion or race or nationality. All nations and people have to make a choice. Would they let the cycle of hate and counter-hate continue or will they put an end to it by standing up for our common humanity?

Do you think a double standard exists when labelling an incident a “terrorist attack”?

     View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Yasser Latif Hamdani

Yasser Latif Hamdani

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He tweets as @theRealYLH (twitter.com/therealylh)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.