There has been much said in the wake of Laura Brindley’s article on countering Islamophobia, which in great irony elicited responses of being ‘racist’ and ‘bigoted’. I don’t propose to level labels onto Laura, this article is intended to correct some of the baseless claims that were made.
She begins with the widely held view ‘9/11 woke the world to the tangible danger from terrorists’. Which is entirely correct, if you don’t consider the rest of the Earth’s population as human. The label ‘terrorist’ has become utterly meaningless. The FBI’s definition of terrorism is ‘a violent act or an act dangerous to human life…to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. In 1996, when U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright was asked if the sanctions on Iraq that killed half a million Iraqi children were worth the price, she replied ‘we (the United States government) think the price is worth it’. By the FBI’s definition George H.W Bush who imposed the sanctions and Bill Clinton who continued them are terrorists, on a scale Bin Laden could not dream of. Denis Halliday resigned from his post of administrating the sanctions stating ‘I don't want to administer a program that satisfies the definition of genocide’. Only the ‘other’ commits horrendous crimes that we remember, we at worst commit ‘mistakes’ and courageously march on, heads held high. My argument is not to highlight Western crimes and diminish those of Al Qaeda in comparison, crimes are crimes, terror is terror, it’s to correct the widespread and groundless assertion terrorism began in 2001 with the United States conveniently as its helpless victim, or that the world ‘woke to the tangible danger from terrorists’ on 9/11; the rest of the world has been subject to terror in incomparable numbers for centuries, namely ours.
She labeled Al Qaeda prior to 9/11 a ‘previously little known extremist organization’. Bruce Lawrence a specialist in these matters at Duke University writes Al Qaeda in 1980 was originally called ‘Sijill Al Qaeda or “Register of the Base”…at this time he (Osama Bin Laden) cooperated closely with…the CIA…with American and Saudi funds…he built mountain bases…and training camps in the border regions (of Pakistan)’. Al Qaeda was well known prior to 9/11 - as an American ally. Who we (‘we’ which I use broadly to refer to the United States and its lackeys in Europe) liaise with then came full circle into our collective conscious on 9/11.
She later remarks in relief ‘thankfully, no attack has ever reached the scale of 9/11’ which is entirely correct, if again we accept the suppressed premise only people in the West are human. Are the 2,500 civilians killed in drone strikes in North Western Pakistan, 100 of them children, not subject to terror? When Barack Obama carries out a ‘signature drone strike’, when we don’t know whom we’re killing, but hope we’re killing the ‘right person’, is he not a terrorist? Suicide bombers use the same logic, and we most certainly label them terrorists. Again, my argument isn’t to diminish the crimes of Al Qaeda in relation to Western crimes, it is to ask by what definition a suicide bomber is a terrorist and Barack Obama not? Why has the ‘bushy bearded Asian man’ sent chills down the spine of people Laura is reporting on but not the clean-shaven American? If we subconsciously restrict the word terrorist to Muslims, then inevitably Muslims will be associated with it, creating fear and prejudice. The problem with the article is she has done just that. The entire article is myopic and restricts the term to Muslims and appearing in Redbrick it will only spread through the university reinforcing stereotypes. Muslims have already been under constant media attack in the wake of 9/11; Cardiff University in a recent study found ‘of 974 newspaper articles published about British Muslims between 2000 and 2008 more than a quarter of them portrayed Islam as “dangerous, backward or irrational”’ and ‘references to radical Muslims outnumbered references to moderate Muslims by 17 to one’; even though according to Europol, from 2005-2008 there were 1,596 acts of terror committed in the EU, and 5 were carried out by Muslims.
Another reason the article elicited heated response was because it’s a typical example of the white savior complex. She writes in Redbrick telling fellow white students to have their heads held high, suck it up and fulfill their responsibility to hold arms with Oriental citizens to prevent them from putting on a suicide vest and going on a murderous rampage. Imagine the article condescendingly read like this: ‘Don’t let the Mark Duggan shooting make black people become violent, we must treat them nicer!’ If you subconsciously assume black people are violent to begin with or Muslims fall short of joining terror networks due to the care taken by their white keepers to restrain them, then you’re going to elicit claims of bigotry and racism.
She writes ‘media outlets have a responsibility to give a voice to peaceful Muslims who oppose extreme Islam’. Why can’t Muslims be called Muslim, why must they have the adjective thrown onto them to ensure society of their safety? Why must the entire community apologize for the actions of a few? George Bush invaded Iraq thinking he was fulfilling Biblical prophecy, Joe Barton a Republican member of the House of Representatives denied climate change science on Biblical grounds (as one may guess does much of the Republican Party). These individuals have killed hundreds of thousands of people and are potentially putting at risk the fate of the human race, but why do we not expect Christian organizations to come out and condemn them? Why are they not called ‘Christian extremists’ instead of something like ‘fringe politicians’, but more revealingly why aren’t the majority of Christians labeled ‘moderate Christians’ by society? Not of course that I would ever want such a scenario. It’s unthinkable to have an article on Redbrick titled ‘Don’t let evolution put Christians off science, lets teach them!’ as we don’t make the assumption all Christians are scientifically illiterate. Furthermore Islamophobia does not condescendingly make Muslims feel ‘compelled to rebel. To give society back what they have received’, it makes them feel isolated and scrutinized. What makes a handful of Muslims ‘compelled to rebel’ (a euphemism to commit terror) is well known by the experts. The Pentagon concluded in 2004 ‘Muslims do not "hate our freedoms", but rather, they hate our policies...ever increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf States’.  the article espouses many of the assumptions that we need to remove; that there needs to be a dialect of ‘peaceful’ Muslim, that all Muslims should be consulted to respond to the actions of a few, that Muslims are like rabid dogs waiting to ‘rebel’ unless they get a pat on the head more often, and that the history of terror in the world began on 9/11. The fact similar assumptions do not exist with other groups that I’ve mentioned goes some way to highlight the distrust that has built over the previous decade due to articles such as these, which will only worsen relations between Muslims and non-Muslims at university unless thoroughly rebutted as I hope to have done here.
There are 14 million Muslims in Western Europe, Turks in Germany, Arabs in France, South Asians in Britain who have migrated here to warmly embrace western freedoms, and a (largely) tolerant and diverse society. If you want to stop the problem of terrorism, stop engaging in it. And stop watching the mainstream media if you want to write an article on it.
 BBC News, 'UN official blasts sanctions', September 30, 1998, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/183499.stm
 Bruce Lawrence, Messages to the world the statements of Osama Bin Laden, (2005) Verso ppXiii
 http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/2004-09-Strategic_Communication.pdf (the subsequent report has been taken down, however the quoted sections can be seen here http://www.salon.com/2009/10/20/terrorism_6/ )