What should we call those who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 of this year? Struggles over possible labels matter: What one calls a certain group has implications for the ways in which one can and will engage with them. The polarization of Americans when it comes to classifying the attacks is indicative of a larger dilemma: how should one respond to the rioters and their demands – and is that even an option?
Politicians, the media, and social media users alike have framed recent attacks in Europe as instances of “Islamist” violence. The current debate often remains superficial and uses the umbrella term of “Islamism” to describe a diverse spectrum of actors, ideologies, and activities. Notably, conflating Salafi jihadism with other manifestations of Islamism risks consolidating a unified enemy image of “the Islamists” – or, even worse, Islam. This blogpost aims at disentangling these labels, in particular pointing out two discursive pitfalls: the securitisation of Islam and Muslim communities, and the equation of Islamism with terrorism.