Bharatiya Janata Party leader Giriraj Singh delivered another incendiary speech at a seminar in New Delhi late on Tuesday, claiming that “all terrorists belong to one community.”
“Isn’t it true that all people caught in terrorist activities belong to one community?” he asked. “I am not trying to blame any one particular community, but why are all so-called secular parties silent on this?”
Mr. Singh, is the BJP candidate from Nawada, Bihar, is being investigated by the police after he proclaimed in April that “those who oppose Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan.”
In his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Singh appeared to repeat these sentiments, saying some Indians “are pro-terrorism and their political Makkah-Medina is Pakistan. These people should be in Pakistan, not India.”
Mr. Singh’s claim that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are Muslims reflects widespread prejudice and is not borne out by data. Data from the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management’s authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal show that theatres of conflict primarily involving Muslim perpetrators accounted for just one-fifth of civilian and security force fatalities between 2008 and 2013. During those years, terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamist terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Indian Mujahideen claimed the lives of 934 civilians and security force personnel. Maoists and terrorist groups in the Northeast killed 4,163 people during the same period.
Except in 2008, Islamist terror groups accounted for 10 per cent or less of terrorism-related civilian and security force fatalities, showing violence by Muslim perpetrators was less than the community’s share of India’s population. Even in 2008, which saw a peak in Islamist violence — four major urban bombings, as well as the 26/11 attacks — killings by Muslim terrorists accounted for well under half of all civilian and security force fatalities.
The insurgencies in the States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura involve myriad Hindu, Christian and tribal groups; none of the major armed actors is Muslim. The Maoist insurgency also involves Adivasis and caste Hindus, not Muslims.
Researchers across the world have battled hard to combat the perception that terrorism is primarily linked to Muslims. In 2013, North Carolina University scholar Charles Kurzman showed that while 33 U.S. residents died of terrorism launched by Muslims after 9/11, more than 300 died in mass shootings carried out by perpetrators from other religious groups.
The Centre for Research on Globalisation, using the open-access START database, found that just 2.5 per cent of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1970 and 2012 were carried out by Muslims.