LETTER TO THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Mr Bazarwala seeks to assure us that we should not worry about Islamically-inspired terrorist attacks in the United States because white supremacists kill more people. (Singling out Muslims as the main terrorist threat is grossly unfair, 16 February)
That is indeed true: if you don't count the 9/11 attacks (3,000 deaths). And if you don't count the Orlando killings (49 deaths).
Still, this should not be about body count. After all more people are killed in bathtub accidents than by terrorism. Also by bee stings or lightning strikes. Random gun deaths dwarf all these put together.
Bazarwala's argument is classic tu quoque, that is: "you/they do it too". This is a logical fallacy of moral equivalence that distracts from the issue at hand.
The issue at hand is intent. Bathtubs, bees and lightning intend you no harm. Far-right terrorism is a mish-mash of motives: racist, anti-government, anti-abortion. They don't murder innocents while shouting "Jesus is Lord". With Islamic terrorism the intent is clear. It is to kill "infidels".
Killings in the name of Islam are usually accompanied by shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (god is great). The 100+ Jihadist terror groups in the world explicitly root their actions in the doctrines of Islam. This may be uncomfortable to many, who claim terrorists "have nothing to do with Islam" or have "hijacked the religion of peace".
But this is obscurantism. To students of Islam, it is clear that there are parts of its foundational books – the Koran, the Hadith, the biography of Muhammad –
which lend themselves to terrorists horrors we see around the world, including the Sunni-Shia civil war.
All we seek, we critics of Islamism, is that the troublesome aspects of doctrinal Islam are admitted and contested, by Muslims.
Obfuscation will not do away with the global terror threat. We are constantly told moderate Muslims are the "vast majority". Surely they wish to see terrorism eradicated, just as much as we infidels do. That requires some plain speaking, not dubious moral equivalence and dissimulation.