Reducing Terrorism: Actions America Needs to Take

By David Harary, Executive Director

It sounded like it was a part of the music. Until people dropped to the ground.

America has heard its deadliest mass shooting. 49 killed, 53 injured. And while devastating, this scenario is all too familiar for those who have grown up in the post-9/11 era. Unfortunately, lone wolf attacks are now the norm. For millennials, this particular shooting makes a strong statement: the LGBT community is a main target of violence and hate. That should make all of us uncomfortable.

Becoming more tolerant of LGBT, women, and people of other religions, faiths, and cultures is something the entire world is currently dealing with. But it’s sadly true that many regions of the world are further behind. This clearly includes parts of our own country.

When radical Islamists explicitly say “I’m doing this because of my religion”, we should listen to them

 

So how do we react to today’s violence? How do we respond? First of all, we need to call this type of terrorism by its real name: radical Islamic terrorism. In the words of Maajid Nawaz, founder of the Quilliam Foundation and author of Radical: My Journey from Islamic Extremism to a Democratic Awakening, extremism doesn’t have everything to do with Islam. It also doesn’t have nothing to do with Islam. Instead, it has something to do with Islam. That something is important for how we tackle radicalization efforts by Muslim extremists. When radical Islamists explicitly say “I’m doing this because of my religion”, we should listen to them and ask how we can make reformations so this doesn’t happen again.

President Barack Obama receives an update in the Oval Office from FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco on the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., June 12, 2016. Also attending the meeting were Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama receives an update in the Oval Office from FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco on the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., June 12, 2016. (Pete Souza, White House).

Secondly, in order for societies to become more accepting, we need better education and more advocacy from the bottom-up. This includes outreach towards muslim communities. Muslims have a role in defining and shaping the ideology of Islamic adherents through their own leadership and advocacy. Non-muslims also have a responsibility to engage in healthy dialogue with muslims. Discussions on issues like integration, Islamaphobia, religious extremism, and political Islam are a must. 

Lastly, we need to make appropriate reformations on our gun regulations. With 3.4 firearm-related homicides per 100,000 people, we have the worst gun problem in the developed world. From Newtown, CT to Orlando, FL, it’s quite clear how badly the U.S. needs gun reform and the issue has now become systemic.

Americans are currently engaging in difficult conversations regarding religious extremism and gun policy. It’s important for these discussions and debates to be had if we want to prevent future attacks from happening. There are, however, some clear actions Americans can make in order to succeed. While many of these reforms may not be easy, they are necessary if we yearn to create a safer and more accepting society for all.


David Harary is the Executive Director of the Center for Development and Strategy. He’s currently pursuing his MSc in Sustainability Management at the University of Toronto and holds a B.A. in Economics and Geography and International Trade. 

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