The wounds created by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have not yet healed. Americans have continually remained in a constant state of paranoia.
Not only are we physically fighting terrorism overseas, but after a recent incident at the University of North Carolina, it is obvious that we are overly conscious of terrorism on our own grounds.
According to the Los Angeles Times, on March 4, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a graduate of UNC, struck nine pedestrians at a popular campus square with his sports utility vehicle to “avenge the deaths of Muslims” worldwide. In response to the attack, Stephen Mann, a member of the College Republicans, organized a rally calling UNC students to stand united. Unfortunately, the protest caused controversy as he called the incident an act of terrorism.
This prompted counter protests that claimed the original rally was insensitive and hurt the situation even more.
Terrorism has become a state within our minds that is in the midst of fighting a civil war. Taheri-azar was a student at one of our nation’s colleges and he attacked his fellow students and they retaliated, not with force, but with words, which are almost just as harmful.
In this post 9-11 era, the media has shaped our minds to believe that terrorism is automatically linked to Muslims. This generalization instills a subconscious, widespread prejudice.
This shallow minded thinking reverts back to the Red Scare, when many thought all Russians were communists. Mann’s protest did nothing but increase the prejudices formed against Muslims.
There is no denying that Taheri-azar performed a desperate act of violence, but would it have been called terrorism if he was not Muslim? Also, would a protest have arisen condoning it as an act of terrorism? To consider Taheri-azar’s violent attack terrorism, we must remember that terrorism, which was once defined as any act carried out by any individual whose purpose is to cause intimidation and fear, now carries a much more specific connotation.
According to the Associated Press, Taheri-azar claimed he was carrying out the “will of Allah.” However, Allah represents people of the Muslim religion. What Taheri-azar did does not.
It was an act of anger carried out by violence. An anti-terrorist movement should not arise from a singled out, passionate crime. Mann’s demonstration would not be debated if it had focused on ending violence and not name the attack a terrorist act.