UK police consider dropping ‘Islamist’, ‘jihadi’ terms when describing terror attacks

The head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK, Neil Basu, discussed the use of language to describe acts of terror during an online forum in June. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Updated 20 July 2020

UK police consider dropping ‘Islamist’, ‘jihadi’ terms when describing terror attacks

  • If implemented, officers would stop using phrases such as “jihadi” when describing attacks by those claiming Islam as a motive for terror

LONDON: Police in the UK are considering replacing terms such as “Islamist terrorism” to describe acts of terror with phrases such as “adherents of Osama bin Laden’s ideology,” The Times reported on Monday.

If implemented, officers would stop using phrases such as “jihadi” when describing attacks by those claiming Islam as a motive for terror because their usage was not helpful for community relations.

The head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK, Neil Basu, discussed the use of language to describe acts of terror during an online forum in June with attack survivors, relatives of victims and experts.

During the event it was pointed out that right-wing extremists such as Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in an attack in Norway in 2011, had often cited protecting Christianity as part of the motive for their actions, but were not described as “Christianist” or “crusaderist” by the police or the media.

A change in the use of language was requested by the National Association of Muslim Police, which said 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.

Representatives from the organization, which numbers 3,000 members, argued that “jihad” should not be used because it means “struggle” or “effort” in Arabic and can refer to being a devout Muslim and carrying out good deeds.

Other alternatives to currently used phrases included “terrorists abusing religious motivations” or the Arabic word “irhabi,” which is not connected to religion but often used in the Middle East to describe terrorism.

The national coordinator of the UK’s de-radicalization program Prevent, Nik Adams, said counter terrorism officers had said, after receiving advice from Muslim officers, they were “concerned” that terminology currently in use could lead to “stigmatizing of innocent Muslims in the UK.”

However, Adams told The Times that any change in language used was not certain to be implemented, adding: “We have no plans to change the terminology we use at present but welcomed the debate and contributions.”


Militants kill two police in Kashmir ahead of India’s Independence Day

Updated 8 min 35 sec ago

Militants kill two police in Kashmir ahead of India’s Independence Day

  • Authorities said the militants had been identified
  • The attack comes days after the first anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy

SRINAGAR: Militants attacked a police team in Kashmir on Friday, killing two officers and wounding one despite tight security in the disputed Muslim-majority region ahead of India’s Independence Day.
A group of militants opened fire on the police team that was on duty in the Nowgam area of Srinagar city, the chief of police in Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, told Reuters.
“We had inputs that militants may carry out attack and were alert,” said Kumar. “They came through a narrow lane and fired indiscriminately.”
He said the militants had been identified and vowed to “neutralize them” soon. The area had been cordoned off searches were going on, he said.
The attack comes days after the first anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy, a reform the Indian government said would promote the region’s development by drawing it closer to the rest of the country.
But many people in Kashmir saw the loss of special autonomy as another step in the erosion of the rights of Muslims by the Hindu-nationalist government. The government rejects that.
Kashmir has been disputed by India and neighboring Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both countries claim it in full but rule it in part.
More than 50,000 people have been killed in more than three decades of insurgency in Kashmir that India accuses Pakistan of fueling by supporting Muslim militant groups fighting India’s security forces in its part of the divided region.
Pakistan says it only offers political support to its fellow Muslims in the Himalayan region.
India celebrates Independence Day on Saturday.