Over the years, terrorism has become a very complex topic. This is based on how different people view it, and their understanding thereof. Explanations of terrorism might be biased based on social prejudice and political assumptions. This aspect might be among the reasons why people have contrasting opinions regarding the issue. Various experts and policy makers have shown their contrasting views with regards to the theoretical perspectives involved. Several theories have been devised in an attempt of trying to explain this concept. As a result, most people feel puzzled, unsure, confused, baffled and lost while studying terrorism. The aspect affects even the most educated individuals in the society. They all seem to have various points of dispute. The purpose of this paper is to examine an article related to terrorism. Through the assessment, various points of dispute regarding terrorism will be under consideration. The theories of mass media and theories of terrorism will be tested in the assessment of the article.
The article involved in this case is “A message written in blood- British poet takes on Islamic State”. It is an article derived from the MIDDLE EAST EYE website. It revolves around the 23-year-old Sana; who is a journalism graduate raised in West London and was born in Yemen. It is based on a poem that she recited and uploaded the video on YouTube. The poem is more of an attack on the militant group that had occupied parts of Iraq and Syria. It comes out as words of someone who feels that their culture is being eroded by people using it for their own good. She feels that there is a loss of identity based on how the people are being manipulated in light of religion to commit atrocities towards other people.
In this article, terrorism has been presented with regards to the theories of terrorism. This is based on the points of dispute that exist among people from different backgrounds. The article mentions that the Islamic State (IS) tends to induce fear and hysteria in its quest to fulfill its objectives. This is for both the people in the Middle East and those in the West (Finn 1). This might create an explanation why some people get recruited in these groups even when they did not seem to fit in. The aspect of fear might make someone become part of something that they did not want to if it is the only thing that makes them feel safe at the moment. By joining the group, people might feel that their families are safe, and hence, there is little to worry about. In the process, they become absorbed in with the dealings of this group, and find themselves at the helm of most terrorism acts.
The fear created for the people in the West is demonstrated in a different way. It is likely to cause an atmosphere of panic among the people. At times, there is the feeling of helplessness from the public due to the fear of what might come around. The media does not contribute a lot in eliminating this fear. This is because it acts in the exact way that the terrorists want; to spread the devastating news. Terrorists are aware of the fact that bad news sells and they are usually sure that the media outlets would help them in creating fear among the people based on how they report. Sometimes the psychological torture is sufficient even in the absence of the psychical torture. The terrorists are normally working with the idea that even if they kill one individual, the aspect would frighten like ten thousand people. The main objective here is modifying the public’s and the enemy’s behavior.
Another point of dispute that is prevalent in the article is whether Islamist terror can be viewed as a rational response to Western foreign policy or it is just an expression of hatred towards Western values. This point of dispute has been demonstrated by Sana as she explains how some of the people get recruited in the IS. A friend of her had sent an IS propaganda video that showed young British recruits bombing tanks and spearheading shootings in northern Iraq (Finn 1). This aspect is meant to make them hate people from the West. This would mean that they will hate the people from the West with the belief that they are committing atrocities towards their people. This is more of a brainwashing concept.
Therefore, it would not be prudent to conclude that terrorism acts are rational in that the people involved respond towards the Western policies that they do not uphold. It is more of an expression of hatred that is based upon what has been subjected to the people by the individuals desiring to control their thought process.
Another point of dispute that has been quite prevalent in the article is that of separation of religion from politics. Sana has demonstrated this aspect in the interview by reflecting on the people her age that have left Britain and went to Syria. This comes in the light of other people wondering what could have gone wrong for them to make such decisions. Sana believes that it all boils down to who these people are listening to (Finn 1). This is more so on the religious figures that are giving them a push to leave their lives in Britain and move to the war-torn regions.
In her poem, Sana denounces the so-called “layman preachers.” This entails the clerics that use religion to encourage Muslims residing in Europe to take arms in the Middle East. Sana’s argument in the article is that these clerics tend to manipulate the message. Through the manipulation, they have the ability to influence the people and as a result, misguide the masses (Finn 1). The people involved in these actions normally have different agendas aligned. Most of the religious sheiks have various political affiliations. They tend to use religion in order to confuse people so that they can fulfill their political endeavors. When terrorism acts occur, there are politicians that normally stand to gain in one way or another.
The concept of martyrdom is also prevalent in the article. The representation of Sheikh Mohamed al-Areifi is a favorable example in this case. He is believed to be the most followed person on Twitter in the Middle East. This means that he has a huge following, and his messages have the potential of spreading far and wide. In addition, he is highly respected by the Muslim community all over the world (Finn 1). Sana believes that al-Areifi uses this prospect to influence youths to leave their homes and travel to Syria for recruitment of terrorism acts. al-Areifi is aware that this aspect about himself is known by authorities from different nations with whom they have locked horns with at particular times.
However, he does not seem to be relentless with his efforts regardless of this fact. This attribute could easily be explained using the concept of martyrdom. This is to say that the cleric believes in what he does, and he does not see the fear of death as something that would make him back down. He is of the belief that in case his actions resulted in his untimely death, his followers would consider him as a martyr. His name would forever live on, and his family would also stand to benefit from the legacy that he would have created through this encounter. Deaths of martyrdoms tend to be remembered more compared to other deaths. This is due to the role that the people involved play in the community. This aspect has been among the reasons why most people tend to be influenced to being suicide bombers. They are told of how their names will be remembered forever and their families will live to enjoy the benefits that come with it.
The article has also tried to show some aspects that involve the legitimacy of violence. This is vivid where Sana talks about the IS propaganda video that she received from her friend. It was a video showing how oppressive the people from Britain are towards Islam. The people circulating the video wanted people affiliated to Islam to see these atrocities. There was an expectation that the video would elicit them into acts of violence. This is simply saying that these people would have a reason to bring war to the people of British origin. It is a way of exerting revenge. This way, they would have legitimized violence. This is because it would not be viewed as a bad thing since they are just exerting revenge for their fallen countrymen. After all, these are their enemies, and they deserve such treatment based on their actions.
The article at hand can be criticized in various areas. To begin with, it has not represented the theories of mass media. These theories are viewed with high regard when it comes to acts of terrorism. This is due to the lengthy debates that tend to highlight how the media contributes in aspects of terrorism. The inclusion of these theories would have been favorable in analyzing the terrorism concept entirely. Some of the theories of terrorism that have been mentioned in the article would have been expounded further with connection to the theories of mass media. More so, the concept of fear and expression of hatred towards Western values.
The media is known to thrive on “bad news”. It has proven to sell every now and then. As a result, the media is usually involved with issues revolving around terrorism to a greater extent. People lean on the media to inform them of what is happening around the world. But how do the media represent the world? There seems to be a systematic inclination to favor certain sides when it comes to dispute or support one interpretation. In other cases, there is a tendency to sympathize with a certain cause over the other.
The article has also tried to demonstrate the rational perspective through which terrorists view their actions, but has not gone further in detailing whether it is rational or not. IS spreading videos to Muslims residing in Western countries in an attempt of trying to influence them can be viewed as a point of showing rationality. Therefore, terrorism is viewed as a rational way of exerting revenge on these people. It is more like how people tend to pay evil for evil. The article has not tried to expound whether this aspect is rational or not. In case the videos that were being spread by IS were genuine, would retaliation by way of terrorism be regarded as being rational? This is something that the article would have expounded since it brings some curiosity with “what if” questions.
In conclusion, the article tends to affect people’s perception of terrorism in different ways. To begin with, the article has shown no regard to the theories of mass media. This is because it has opted to concentrate on the theories of terrorism to a larger extent. This becomes difficult for the reader to comprehend the role played by the mass media in light of terrorism. Some information on this aspect would have been very helpful in shedding some light on the numerous debates that are always there regarding how mass media is involved with terrorism. There are people who view it positively, and there are those that view it negatively. Such readers will not have the ability to expound on their knowledge with this article.
Through the article, the reader is meant to believe that terrorism comes as a result of a conflict of interest between religion and politics. When influential politicians want to gain in one way or another, they tend to hide behind the acts of terrorism. These acts are meant to make them strong in the eyes of their supporters since they show them that they are always fighting for their rights regardless of the obstacles presented. Behind the scenes, the politicians involved are perpetrating the best strategies to use with their affiliated religion leaders. It is known that people are likely to be inclined in doing what their religion requires of them. People have always been taught that they should not question the concepts involved in religion but are required to follow them promptly. Distortion of the religious message is meant to influence people to participate in terrorist actions that only end up benefiting the political leaders that orchestrated them in the first place.
Another thing that readers can comprehend from this article is that terrorists view themselves as being rational in their actions. This has been demonstrated by the techniques used to influence Muslims in taking arms against the Western countries. The terrorists tend to demonstrate their victims as bad people based on how they have treated them in the past. They use their actions as the reason for the attacks that they make. To them, the aspect of exerting revenge is very rational regardless of the people that suffer in the process. This can be viewed as a way of legitimizing violence.
From the article, readers also derive the notion that terrorists raise their supremacy by way of creating fear and hysteria. The fear that people have in countries that terrorists originate from can be viewed as the reason why some people join these groups. They want their families to remain safe, and they view their involvement with these groups as one way of actualizing this prospect. Fear also tends to cause mental torture towards the afflicted individuals. There are times when the mental torture might be even more damaging compared to the physical torture.
All in all, anyone reading this article will come out with the comprehension that the concept of terrorism is not as simple as it sounds. There are various theories involved that can be used to explain it. The theories are quite different, but each can be explained to make sense to the reader. There are times when more than one theory becomes applicable in a particular situation. The existence of the different theories can also be termed among the reasons that people have various points of dispute when it comes to terrorism.
Finn, Tom. ‘A Message Written in Blood’ – British Poet Takes on Islamic State. Middle East Eye. N.p., 20 May 2015. Web. 04 June 2016. <http://www.middleeasteye.net/in- depth/features/message-written-blood-british-poet-takes-islamic-state-426561583>.
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