Kurzman said this is not the case. The first edition of his book uses the aftermath of 9/11 as a case study to show the evidence that Islamic terrorism did not occur at the scale or the frequency experts predicted.
The second edition is updated to include the age of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Just as experts were proven wrong in their theory that 9/11 would spark the rise of Islamic terrorist attacks, Kurzman said ISIS did not inspire a wave of “do-it-yourself” terrorist attacks around the world on the scale they feared.
He said liberal Islamic movements put in place to mobilize political democracy and human rights are major reasons why there are fewer Muslim terrorists than experts predicted there would be in the wake of both 9/11 and the Islamic State.
“It discusses the anti-terrorist messages of virtually every Islamic scholar in the world,” he said. “And the fact was they issued against terrorism.”
Kurzman also discussed Islamic pop culture as a reason for why there are so few Muslim terrorists. He said musicians and artists use their talents to promote anti-violence and anti-extremist movements.
To put it into perspective, Kurzman said there are 16,000 to 17,000 murders in the U.S. every year. In 2017, a dozen were due to Islamic terrorism. Last year, there was only one, Kurzman said.
Still, Islamophobia has become a major issue for Americans in the aftermath of Islamic terrorist attacks, he said. Kurzman provided the example of Americans equating Muslim prayer with terrorism when New York City heard a proposal for the construction of an Islamic cultural center a few blocks down from the 9/11 memorial site.
Kurzman said a major cause of the rise of Islamophobia is the media’s failure to report on domestic terrorism to the same extent that it does international — specifically Islamic — terrorism. In addition, Kurzman said U.S. national security fails to investigate domestic terrorism as heavily as they do international terrorism.
Senior Lauren Gress said she attended the lecture as a requirement for her journalism class, but said she still came away surprised at what she was hearing.
“The news has not been doing a great job recently, but I never really thought about national security contributing to this fear and contributing to the articles being written,” she said.
The next Humanities in Action presentation is on Music and Politics in Contemporary Uganda on March 5 at Flyleaf Books and is free to all students.