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Why the identity of ‘Louvre attacker’ shouldn’t be important

Maria Dubovikova

Published: Updated:

“Louvre terror suspect identified as 29-year-old Egyptian tourist” claim media headlines. For people, it is not surprising the suspect is a Muslim and originated from an Arab country. And there is no doubt that it was the first thing people thought about when they heard the breaking news, which informed the broad public about the incident at the Louvre museum, without providing any details.

The incident will be used as another example by the far-right parties to raise their voices and bring in new, frightened adherents into their ranks.

Muslims are terrorists. Arabs are terrorists. Iraqis, Egyptians, Saudis, Algerians and all the rest are the terrorists or potential terrorists, as long as they are Muslims. We live in a vicious circle where xenophobia and islamophobia fuels extremism, raising the feelings of despair and resentment in the hearts of rejected Muslims and giving the radicals new arguments for their recruiting sermons and clearing the way for spreading of hatred. All the while, this fuels Islamic radicalization, giving a serious push to the further rise of xenophobia and islamophobia. Thus tensions are forever escalating.

Not new

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon at all. It was and stays an instrument of political or ideological struggle. Terrorist acts are committed with no correlation to nationality or religion, but are tied to ideology. This ideology can be religion inspired, be a sort of sect, and at its core be nothing but mutilated, veritable religion itself. It can be on a national basis, but does not refer to the whole nation. But apparently this rule does not function quiet fairly.

Crimes committed by non-Muslims, as a terrorist act committed by Anders Breivik, the Orlando attack, and many others are regularly taken by the media only as separate acts of ‘lone wolves’. Such attacks are not linked to religions or nations, but to real ideologically religion-inspired, far-right sects and organizations, or at least to an individual suspect influenced by concrete ideas. And only terrorist acts committed by Muslims seem to refer in the public opinion to the whole religion and nations that practice it. But is this fair?

But does nationality or religion really matter in terrorism cases? Why attacks on mosques are taken as acts of vandalism, while attacks on churches are immediately described as act of Islamic terrorism? Why attack on Muslims are considered as an ordinary crime by individuals or a group of people, while crimes committed by the Muslims are getting particular religious islamophobic context?

But does nationality or religion really matter in terrorism cases? Why attacks on mosques are taken as acts of vandalism, while attacks on churches are immediately described as act of Islamic terrorism?

Maria Dubovikova


The same media who slam Donald Trump for imposing the immigrant ban and its dubious policies, somehow play into the hands of ultra-nationalists and far-right parties, as in both cases media just provides blank information and images, without bothering to give any historical background and not going into details.

Furthermore, the media has created the climate in which the election of Trump has become possible, as well as the rise of far-right parties in Europe, and now they naively wonder how this could happen.

Stereotype thinking

Returning to the beginning from the given headline, people will take two-three words: ‘terror pre-existent perceptions and fears, strengthening stereotype thinking.

As before, the Western media which created a comfortable environment for the nationalist ideas to surface and win the minds of people though quiet thoughtless and dishonest work. It is the West which bears a significant share of responsibility for appearance of such monsters as ISIS and al- Qaeda. Clumsy interference in complex religious and delicate issues, pursuing geopolitical iinterests, have triggered the uncontrollable spread of deadly and destructive ideologies of different forms of so-called of ‘radical Islam’.

Anyway, crime has no nationality or religion. The same is applicable to terrorism, as just nothing, but a form of a crime. Terrorism can have political and ideological background, but is never predetermined by the whole nation or religion and never refers to them.

In the case of Louvre attack news, did the media figure this out in a right way, stating in the first place his nationality? Egyptian? Muslim? Does this really matter? There are 93 million of Egyptians, 345 million Arabs and 1.6 billion Muslims. Why should we associate criminals with nations and religions? When committing a terrorist act, a person loses his identity. He or she is no one, but a terrorist, or a criminal. That would be fair towards nations and believers, and billions of innocent people.

And only such an approach would be relevant and capable enough to break the vicious circle and make people think beyond the created stereotypes, schemes, and make them look further and deeper, even creating an environment where people would be able to join minds and forces regardless of nationalities and beliefs to fight radicalism no matter its origin, and mostly through fighting ignorance.

And the main lesson to be learnt is that a Muslim is not equal to a terrorist.
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Maria Dubovikova is a political commentator and researcher and an expert on Middle East affairs. She is President of the IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club). Her full bio is available here: https://www.politblogme.info/bio/. Maria can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.