During the last few days, newspapers from around the world have been headlining with the tragic story unfolding in India. Beyond the details of the story, newspapers from the Middle East have characterized the attackers as ‘insurgents’ and ‘gunmen’. Al Jazeera’s Arabic edition left out the word ‘terrorist’ altogether, unless quoting an Indian source, and their English version repeated the same non-indicting labels. The English version of Al Arabiya described how ‘gunmen’ and ‘attackers’ were terrorizing Mumbai, without using the dreaded ‘t’ word, even in a verb capacity.
To the Arab world, the perpetrators are ‘gunmen’, ‘attackers’ and ‘insurgents’, all labels which could be positive, depending on whose side you’re on; ‘terrorist’ carries only negative connotations. In the west, these innocuous attackers are terrorists. From France’s Le Monde and Le Figaro to the leftist newspapers in Italy (Corriere della Sera), the UK (the Guardian) and, gulp, the New York Times, these ‘attackers’ are ‘terrorists.’
Until Muslims in the Middle East and around the world believe that the men currently hunting British and American innocents are terrorists, not simply valiant insurgents, tragedies like Mumbai are doomed to recur.