One common misconception in today’s society is that terrorism and terrorist attacks are religiously affiliated, especially with Islam. And this is partly true, since many terrorist attacks have occurred as a product of Islamic terrorist hoping to achieve religious gain, and make people who aren’t Islamic feel terror. However “terrorism” doesn’t imply that the action is religiously affiliated. Simply put, “terrorism” is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. This definition is from Google, and it is supported from Terrorism definitions from dictionary.com and other reliable dictionaries. The key phrase to notice in the definition is that is is “in pursuit of political aims”, which means that terrorism is more of an attack on a political standpoint. Islamic extremists have simply been described with the term since the attacks that they make are often against a society or political environment in which a majority of people are not Islamic.
One study was done in April of 2016, in which a number of adults from around the world were surveyed to chose between one of 4 main definitions that people commonly think about when they think of terrorism:
This graph is fascinating since it displays the truth that the idea of terrorism has a different definition for a majority of people. The blue and orange bars on the far left and far right display that 43% of the adult population surveyed believe that “terrorism” is not religiously affiliated. However keep in mind that 43% is a minority. 57% of adults surveyed said that religious incentives are a main cause for terrorism and that political incentives are also implied in terrorism.
So who is right in this case? According to the definition, most likely the people who voted for the yellow bar are the most correct. The important thing to notice about the description below the yellow bar is the ‘and/or”, this implies that terrorism doesn’t need to have a political or religious incentive, but it sometimes does. Other good things about this definition is that it mentions the importance of violence. Violence being used to intimidate is really the basis of what terrorism is.
The most shocking bar to observe is by far the green bar. The shocking thing about this definition is that is suggests in parentheses that acts of terrorism just have to be threatening and illegal, but not necessarily violent. This interpenetration isn’t necessarily wrong but the fact that 30% of the adult population believes this means that some people may not be fully educated as to what “terrorism” truly is, and what it implies. Terrorism isn’t just an act of intimidation, but instead it is the use of violence to cause terror in order to further a political agenda (which may be religiously related).