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The Definition of "Terrorism"

By Arvand Aidun and Ryan Swerdlin in Opinion & Politics


Acts of terrorism have become a staple in the news and have been rapidly increasing in size and severity due to terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda. Almost every day, the press reports an act of terror, and the subject has saturated the media so much that the topic of terrorism festers in our society. As such a prevalent issue in our day to day lives, it begs the question: What really is terrorism?

According to sophomore Kalyan Lemercier, terrorism is “anything that is an attack on somebody’s culture or a discriminatory attack.”

Lemercier said that Middle Eastern and Islamic people are often labeled and portrayed as terrorists, but he does not agree with that stereotype. Being Indian and French, Lemercier and his family have been mistaken as middle eastern and treated with suspicion at airports.

“Sometimes I get weird looks,”  Lemercier said.

Junior David Zhao’s definition of a terrorist is “anybody who wants to inflict terror.”

Religious radicals commit most of the highly publicized terrorist attacks. Recent examples of terrorist attacks committed by Islamic extremists include the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Many people hear about these atrocities, the perpetrators behind them, and then form opinions about what terrorism is and who represents terrorism based on these attacks. This can, and has, led to bigotry towards Muslims, and people who practice Islam.

However, not everybody associates Islam with terrorism.

Sophomore Elnaz Navid associates the word terrorism simply with “killing,” and she believes that a terrorist is “anyone who uses violence to scare people into believing a certain thing.”

Navid also said that she doesn't see a parallel between religion and terrorism.

Media portrays terrorism as an act of violence but has shown terrorism in a way which muslims or middle easterners are the main attackers or are associated with terrorism due to recent attacks, ie Paris bombing and shootings. However, “terrorism” is a noun, and a terrorist is a person who commits acts of terror, with no relation to a specific race or religion. However due to media saturation and recent events it is portrayed as such.




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