A recent viral video has become the battle-cry for supporters of Islamic causes and left-wing groups by justifying violence and equating acts of terror like 9/11 with wars waged by Western powers. Showing an interaction between a professor and a student, the video seems to challenge the conventional understanding of terrorism, urging viewers to consider an alternate view: perhaps some acts of terror are not only justified, but righteous.
The ultimate irony is that those who hold up the well-reasoned professorial arguments made by the video don’t realize they are actually taking the side of an on-screen villain from a Bollywood flop that demonizes Islamic violence.
In the three-minute video, a professor lecturing on Islam argues that it is a religion of peace by pointing out that the word ‘jihad’ is mentioned about 41 times in the Quran, but the words mercy, peace, and compassion appear about 355 times. When confronted by a student criticizing Islamic terrorism, the professor responds, “That depends on your definition of terrorism.”
The professor then explains that the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can also be considered terrorism. One student, named Riyaz, jumps in to back him up, claiming, “The world’s biggest terrorists are the white super-powers.”
Riyaz points out that only 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attack against the World Trade Center, whereas 15,000 people were killed in the US bombing of Afghanistan.
“Just because you are American, wear a fancy suit, and call yourself the president, doesn’t make you any less of a terrorist,” he sneers.
When asked why he doesn’t just leave America, Riyaz answers ominously, “We will, as soon as you promise to leave [our countries].”
The video’s logical argument not only equates 9/11 and other acts of terrorist violence with US military operations, but actually claims that 9/11 is not terrorism because it resulted in vastly fewer deaths. The US President, and by extension, American soldiers, are all terrorists far more evil than any Islamic Shahid could ever hope to be.
The truth about the origins of the clip make disputing its claims unnecessary. The video is not meant to convince anyone of the righteousness of the Islamic cause or justify their actions. Actually, the opposite is true.
The video is a clip taken from a 2009 Bollywood movie titled Kurbaan. The suave, intelligent professor is, in reality, a misogynist radical Muslim who married his American-Indian wife in order to get citizenship, join up with his terrorist comrades, and blow up subway trains and airplanes.
This scene, which has been held up as a reasonable justification for Islamic terror, depicts Riyaz trying to infiltrate the terror cell by showing he agrees with their absurd and evil motives.
Their main claim is that terrorism is defined by the number of deaths, and that as comparatively fewer people were killed in 9/11 than in American actions, 9/11 was not actually an act of terrorism and the recent Western incursions were.
The precise definition of terrorism has been the subject of international disputes with no consensus on its meaning. A 2003 study by the US Army counted 109 definitions of terrorism including 22 elements, making it entirely subjective. Nonetheless, there is certainly no accepted definition that establishes terrorism based on death toll – outside of this movie.
This is the same reasoning that portrays Israel as being a terrorist nation. Media outlets like to point out that fewer Israelis were killed in Hamas rocket attacks than Gazans in the 2014 Israeli operation to stop the attacks, a fact which automatically makes Israel the guiltier party – despite the important fact that it was not the aggressor in the conflict.
It is the same reasoning that claims Israeli security forces are terrorists, carrying out extrajudicial executions against knife-wielding Palestinian youths.
Breaking Israel News contacted the office of Rensil D’Silva, the director of Kurbaan, in Mumbai. They were unaware of the repurposing of the movie clip and confirmed that the scene was to be understood as we stated it.