UK police consider dropping Islamophobic terms in terror attack reports

by Maruf Adedeji

United Kingdom police are considering replacing terms with Islamophobic undertones when describing terror acts with terms such as ‘adherents of Osama bin Laden’s ideology’.

In the event the move is considered, terms including ‘Islamic terrorism’, ‘Islamist’, ‘Jihadist’ will be dropped when officers are describing attacks caused by those erroneously claiming Islam as terror motive.

In June, there was an online forum organised to discuss the use of language to describe acts of terrorism with attack survivors, relatives of victims and experts.

The UK’s head of counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu was present at the event, where the right-wing extremists such as Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in one attack in Norway in 2011, were discussed.

Many of these extremists had often cited protection for Christianity as part of the motive for their actions, but were not described as ‘Christainist’ or ‘Crusaderist’ by the police or the media.

The National Association of Muslim Police in the UK, therefore, requested a change in the use of some terms in describing attacks because their usage, according to them, was not helpful for community relation.

A popular online news media said on Monday 20 July, 2020, the UK Muslim Police group argued that the use of words such as ‘Islamist’ fostered negative connotations of the UK’s Muslim community and could lead to a rise in discrimination and Islamophobia.

The organisation, with 3,000 members, debated that ‘jihad’ should not be used because it means ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’ in Arabic and can also refer to being a devout Muslim and carrying out good deeds.

Phrases to be used instead of the current ones should include ‘terrorists abusing the religious motivations’ or the religion-connected Arabic word ‘irhabi,’ which directly means terrorism in the Middle East.

The national coordinator of the UK’s de-radicalisation programme Prevent Nik Adams said counter-terrorism officers were concerned over the current use of terminology causing stigmatization against the UK Muslims.

But Adams expressed his uncertainty about the implementation, while also adding that they, however, welcome the debate and contributions.

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