Reflection: the 'war on terror', Islamophobia and radicalisation twenty years on
This reflection for Critical Studies on Terrorism, explores two decades of the 'War of Terror' and what it means today.
- Dr. Tahir Abbas
- 24 September 2021
- Taylor & Francis Online
As I watched the planes hit the Twin Towers on that historic Tuesday back in September 2001, I knew then that for the foreseeable future the Muslim world and the world of Muslims would remain of keen interest to western foreign policymakers, with potentially severe implications for the numerous Muslim minorities across the global north and Muslim majorities in the global south.
Fast forward to today and we have witnessed the securitisation of Muslims through the normalisation of Islamophobia, for example through: legislation that hinders Muslim women’s cultural and religious expression; minaret bans in Europe; cartoons mocking significant Muslim religious symbols for mocking’s sake; and digital surveillance is now the new normal, whethera it is online or through the eyes of CCTV cameras everywhere.
In essence, the 'war on terror' has normalised the securitisation of Muslims and regularised the existence of Islamophobia. This has increased the likelihood of radicalisation, not reduced it. In terms of foreign policy, Afghanistan remains mired in complex multifaceted conflicts that have much to do with the presence of external actors, even though, twenty years on, the US and its allies have by and large left the country.