Have we ever heard of ‘Christian, Jewish, atheist’ terror?
The answer is yes. But do not tell President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He still claims that the world is so anti-Muslim that, in his words, “only if the perpetrator of a murder is a Muslim is this called ‘Islamic terror,’ while if the perpetrator belongs to a different faith [his act] is not even categorized as terror.” Since Mr. Erdoğan asked, “Have you ever heard of Christian, Jewish or atheist terror?” let us journalists try to help him understand. He still thinks “the perpetrator will be categorized as a terrorist only if he is a Muslim.” Mr. Erdoğan is wrong.
It is not true that mankind has viciously united to blame Muslims as terrorists. Christian Americans for several decades fought the – Christian - Ku Klux Klan that targeted African Americans, Catholics, Jews and other social and ethnic minorities. In its time, Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist group.
The “Anti-balaka” groups in the Central African Republic destroyed nearly all the mosques during the years of unrest in the country. They were anti-Muslim terrorists. Tripura in northeast India and Nagaland in eastern India were groups committed to acts of terror too, motivated by their Christian beliefs. In Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army was a violent quasi-religious movement that mixed aspects of Christianity with its own spiritualism.
During Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990) organized groups of Maronite Christian militias perpetrated the Karantina and Tel al-Zaatar massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese Muslims. They were terrorists.
The Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948, was described as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, Britain, and the United States, in media outlets such as the New York Times; and by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, the 1946 Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency.
Atheists? In 1929, at the Second Congress of Atheists in Soviet Russia, the Union of Belligerent (or Militant) Atheists was created. At the congress, Nikolai Bukharin, the editor of Pravda, called for the extermination of religion “at the tip of the bayonet.” Yemelyan Yaroslavsky, editor of the newspaper “Godless,” declared: “It is our duty to destroy every religious world-concept ... If the destruction of 10 million human beings, as happened in the last war, is necessary for the triumph of one definite class, then that must be done and it will be done.”
Then there was the infamous Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who in a solo act of terror killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. The world political literature remembers him as a white supremacist terrorist.
Mr. Erdoğan’s problem is not only about his lack of objectivity or his too thin Islamist skin. It is also about the way he defends his often radical ideas. He has an obsession about anyone associating anything bad with anyone Muslim, whereas the “Christians, Jews and atheists” are not subjected to the same obsession.
Mr. Erdoğan once said that he went to Sudan and “saw with his own eyes that there had been no genocide there.” He explained: “Muslims do not commit genocide.” Six decades earlier Christian Germans admitted that they committed genocide. Ask any Christian American and he would not tell you: “There has been no ethnic cleansing of Native Americans! Christian Americans never commit such crimes.”
If Mr. Erdoğan is sincere about how he diagnoses the problem about the bloodshed in the Muslim world, we must have absolutely no hope about an Islamic reform movement. Just two days ago he blamed the intra-Islamic bloodshed on “fitna,” an Arabic word that blames intra-Muslim fighting on Western conspiracies.
Denial is no cure. Muslims have suffered too long for the wrong diagnosis and wrong cure. Islamists’ self-perception of perfection and their powerful faith in anti-Western conspiracy will only add to the bloodshed they complain of. How would a religion that has been fighting between two main sects and hundreds of different sub-sects be at peace with other faiths?