When it comes to non-religious terror organizations like the outlawed PKK and its war against the Turkish state the media avoids using the word ‘terrorism' and justifies the acts of violence, depicting the terrorist organization as freedom fighters
If, say, an American citizen turned out to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, they would face serious consequences. If the person in question were not American, it would be worse. With no need to follow legal procedures, the U.S. would kill them or put them in a detention center for years and justify the action. If they are an affiliate of another terror organization, let's say, the outlawed PKK, nothing happens. Is it not a bit weird? I mean, Westerners have been coming to my country for a long time and introduce themselves as supporters of the Kurdish political movement, defend the PKK publicly and expect no consequences. But if I go to the West and introduce myself as a supporter of an Islamic religious and political movement, that is, do in their country what they do in mine, and defend al-Qaida, think what would happen to me?
Even though the word "terrorism" comes from the French "terrorisme" and was originally used to describe the acts of a frightening government killing en masse through executions, torture and basically frightening them, i.e. state terrorism, like what we see in Damascus or Cairo today, it basically defines the use of violence or threats of violence of others in order to reach a political, religious or ideological aim. But what makes the issue really complicated is not the change in usage, it is that there is still no internationally agreed on and legally binding definition of terrorism, although currently most international conflicts are partially or completely related with terror groups or terrorism, and the world is busy with terror-related matters more than anything else.
Even the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department, for example, have close but different definitions of terrorism. But leaving aside the lexical meaning of terrorism, the media and authorities in the U.S., or in the Western world, easily use the word "terrorism" in the post-9/11 era with no hesitation if a Muslim commits violence. Since it is a legal matter, and terrorism-related laws require severe punishment although there is no common definition yet, it is not just a matter of terminology, as it is about lives, basic human rights and fundamental principles of democracy. Unfortunately, after 9/11 people stopped asking for human rights concerning Muslims. If a Muslim carried out a violent act, then the public has been unanimous in their verdict that it has been an act of terrorism and should be treated as such. Before 2001, the word "terrorism" was not a common term in the U.S., but ever since it has been used broadly and, lately, after the rise of DAESH, it has been updated and become more common than ever.
When someone says something about terrorism today, people around the world first think it is about al-Qaida or DAESH. Today, terrorism implies jihad around the world, violent acts committed by only Muslims, or even the possibility of violence from a Muslim. For example, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill calling on the State Department to label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization even though the Muslim Brotherhood is not a threat to the U.S., as the organization has refused to use violence in response to the state terror targeting the group after the Egyptian coup in 2013. No human rights group sparked a debate or criticized the bill because the Muslim Brotherhood has been systematically labeled a terrorist group by media or state authorities for a long time. The public gets used to accepting the false premise that they are Muslim, then they are probably terrorists without questioning.
But when it comes to non-religious terror organizations like the outlawed PKK and its war against Turkey then the media avoids using the term "terrorism" and justifies the acts of violence, depicting the terrorist organization as freedom fighters. Over the last few years, fighting against DAESH has become a criterion to not be defined as a terrorist organization, but to be a fighter for the greater good. The U.S. explains its support for the PKK's Syrian affiliate within the context of its fight against DAESH. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan properly asked a simple question last week, drawing attention to the contradiction in question: "They [U.S.] support the People's Protection Unit [YPG] against DAESH. Al-Nusra Front fights DAESH too, why are they called bad?"If the matter is fighting DAESH, all other groups that fight DAESH, including al-Nusra Front, should be treated equally. If it is about being affiliated to a terror organization as al-Nusra Front is affiliated to al-Qaida, and YPG is the militia of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD), the Syrian affiliate of the PKK. The PKK is a listed terrorist organization as is al-Qaida in the U.S. and Turkey. So again, it should be treated equally as well. In addition, al-Nusra Front has no activity or presence outside Syria, a country that has been in the midst of a civil war for five years, so that means it is no threat to the West or the U.S.
It is a simple question: Which group is a terrorist organization and which is not? Who is a terrorist and who is not? And what are the criteria to be a terrorist? Are we not supposed to clarify this before it gets more complicated?