Soon after the police in Melbourne, Australia, shot and captured an erratic driver who deliberately plowed his vehicle into innocent pedestrians, social media was abuzz with claims that it was an act of terrorism.
People compared the rampage, which left four dead and more than 20 injured — including an infant who is in critical condition, to the attack in Nice, France, where a truck intentionally drove into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
Following the incident at Bourke Street in Melbourne CBD, at least one witnesses claimed he saw the driver yell “Allahu Akbar” — an Arabic phrase that has now been associated to Muslim extremists.
Even Australian Sen. Pauline Hanson prematurely blamed migrants, refugees and Muslims for the incident.
“All terrorist attacks in this country have been by Muslims,” she told the reporters.
The police soon identified the suspect as 26-year-old Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas (a non-Muslim) and voila, the incident was dubbed non terror-related — despite the fact it was linked to a stabbing that took place earlier.
The incident, as tragic and shocking as it was, raises one very important question: Are such attacks considered terrorism only when the perpetrators are Muslims?
Moreover, the attack lost its front-page status as soon as the suspect was identified. Had it been a Muslim, it would’ve been an entirely different story that would have resulted in an uptick of hate crimes against those who follow Islam.
What happened in Melbourne is just one example.
Earlier this month, a gunman opened fire near the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five people.
The incident occurred months after the suspect, an Iraq war veteran named Esteban Santiago, showed up at an FBI office behaving erratically. Police later revealed they had returned a handgun to the Santiago after temporarily taking it from him when he underwent a mental evaluation late last year.
The 26-year-old was taken into custody immediately, however, the incident was soon removed from the spotlight after the victim didn’t turn out to be Muslim.
Watch the video above to learn more about the Melbourne rampage.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters