Myths about Terrorism and Islam in Western Europe

Religion is rarely the cause of terrorism but the portrayal of Islam suggests otherwise.


Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Islamist terrorism has remained in the focus of daily politics in Germany. Government, police and secrete services regularly warn about the possibility of a terrorist attack.

According to a study of the Bertelsmann Foundation, 57 per cent of the German population regard Islam as a threat. For instance, the reactionary right-wing movement Pegida obtained significant support during the last year with a campaign against Islam. The Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris inJanuary 2015 and the atrocities carried out by ISIS have newly invigorated the debate about Islamist terrorism in Germany. In public discussions and in the mainstream news media, Islam tends to be treated as related to terrorism.




This framing of Islam is inaccurate and problematic. In the online newspaper The Daily Beast, Dean Obeidallah refers todata published by the European police organization Europol. In its report for 2013, Europol recorded 152 terrorist attacks in Europe. Only two of these incidents were conducted by perpetrators who appeared to be “religiously motivated”. If you look at data fromEuropol surveying the last five years, a similar picture emerges: during this period, less than 2 per cent of all terrorist incidents in Europe were “religiously motivated”. Beenish Ahmed similarly evaluated the Europol data. In an article for the US think TankThink Progress she argued that “Islamist militants lag far behind other groups when it comes to carrying out terrorist attacks” in Europe.


Islam Vs Terrorism


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