Inflammatory speech, whether you're the Republican candidate for the White House or a Turkish professor of theology, should be held directly responsible for ensuing violence.
ISTANBUL — In the wake of the ISIS-linked massacre in Orlando, the deadliest terror attack in the United States since Sep. 11, 2001, experts are trying to make sense of this and other similar "lone wolf" operations.
U.S. authorities believe it is more likely that the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who declared his allegiance to ISIS, was acting alone in the massacre rather than obeying any orders. Still, regardless of whether ISIS actually plans and organizes such acts of terrorism, the motivation is always the same: hatred and vendetta.
Right now, cases of this kind appear to be spreading rapidly. Those who murder for ISIS, declaring that the actions are done in the name of Islam, are spurred by some kind of cocktail of loathing and revenge. No less troubling is that these emotion-driven actions are appearing in all different contexts in every corner of the world.
It's high time we speak out not just against the attacks and the people who perpetrate them, but against all those who intensify the atmosphere of hate and encourage zealotry with their words. Such people, it's fair to say, are becoming accomplices to terrorists even if that is not their intention.
In this context, our attention turns to the Turkish preacher Mustafa AÅŸkar, who recently declared that, "People who don't pray are animals." He is one of these people who fuel terrorism.
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Mustafa AÅŸkar — Photo: Sonmez Mehmett via Twitter
Askar's not just some uneducated person on the street. He's a professor in Ankara University's theology department. His clout adds to the gravity of the situation. Who knows what this man teaches in the privacy of his classes. What type of organizations do people turn to in a society in which men like him are opinion leaders?
What's your question?
It is deeply troubling — and dangerous — that during a national television program about Ramadan someone thinks to ask the question, "Is it incumbent on Muslims to harm those who do not pray?"
In this tense environment we live in, words matter. That's because a carelessly spoken phrase can be interpreted in the worst ways possible at the most unexpected time and places, and can inevitably push a lost soul toward an act of terrorism.
At the same time, it is not enough to simply warn against those who falsely claim to speak in the name of Islam. We must also watch out for those driven by Islamophobia, who affront or ridicule Islam and are equally responsible for intensifying the atmosphere of hate and vendetta.
It doesn't matter where they are or what they believe: Those who use expressions of hate are comrades along the same path of destruction. In that sense, Donald Trump and Mustafa AÅŸkar are really not that different. The fact that one of them uses the jargon of zealotry and the other of imperialism doesn't change this truth.
Accordingly, no one can refute the statement, "Ultimately, they all have the same mindset as ISIS." With a spirit of vengeance rising everywhere, the truly innocent are ever harder to find.