Singling out Muslims as main terrorist threat in US is unfair

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 10:25pm

In her letter (“Trump trying to protect US citizens”, February 7), Timmy Chan wrote about President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Islamic-majority countries.

She said she did not see the order as “being anti-Islamic. However, it was a recognition of the fact that most terrorist attacks have been carried out by people originally from Muslim-majority countries, and some refugees and failed asylum seekers from those countries.”

This is oft-repeated misinformation about a voiceless group of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants who are repeatedly belittled. Even The New York Times reported in 2015 that, since 9/11, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists than those of radical Muslims.

Also, 96 per cent of domestic terrorism in the US is committed by white men. The exact figure is disputed, but all statistics have it at more than 90 per cent. This reveals a vast difference between public perception and the number of actual cases in which Muslim extremists have claimed lives in the West.

Over the years, white Christians have walked into schools and churches, and slaughtered children and religious study groups.

Christian activists have bombed gay bars, shot or killed abortion staff and bombed their clinics. However, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, atheists or whatever background the terrorist happened to identify himself with, will not be collectively quizzed to see whether they condemn terrorism.

Meanwhile, if the men in question are black or Muslim, the outcome tends to be very different. Thanks to the reliably biased media coverage and media timidity when it comes to the under-reporting of violence perpetrated by right-wing white extremists, there exists a vast difference between false public perception and the number of actual cases in which Muslim extremists have claimed lives.

Unfortunately, the irresponsible branding of politically expendable asylum seekers and refugees as potential jihadists has infected our collective psyche enough for us to feel threatened by the mere presence of Muslims among us, conflating Islam with terrorism and laying the brickwork for the ongoing social division.

Terrorists enter the West via tourist and student visas, and not by going through the arduous procedures involved in asylum seeking. Most importantly, we collectively can’t afford to abandon asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants after being responsible for their suffering in their countries over the last 30 years, if not more.

Siddiq Bazarwala, Discovery Bay