Definitions of War, Torture, and Terrorism in the Gulf States

  • Heyam Mohammed
  • Raja Tayeh
  • Elizabeth Planje
  • Gregory Malley
Chapter
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)

Abstract

The countries of the Gulf States, sometimes called the Arab Gulf or Persian Gulf, share many characteristics. From their tribal cultures and traditions, to religion and political policy, a strong cultural assimilation has transpired as a result of the close proximity of these nations and the nomadic nature of the people who once roamed the area hundreds of years ago. Currently, the majority of these Gulf nations are run by a royal family, and these families have shown strong opposition to dissent. Kuwait, for example, has recently been under fire after a March 10th, 2011, report claiming Kuwaiti police tortured two foreign migrant workers to death after they were accused of stealing from farm owners and setting fire to their crops (Kuwaiti Authorities Torture Migrant Workers to Death 2011).

Political and Cultural Context

The countries of the Gulf States, sometimes called the Arab Gulf or Persian Gulf, share many characteristics. From their tribal cultures and traditions, to religion and political policy, a strong cultural assimilation has transpired as a result of the close proximity of these nations and the nomadic nature of the people who once roamed the area hundreds of years ago. Currently, the majority of these Gulf nations are run by a royal family, and these families have shown strong opposition to dissent. Kuwait, for example, has recently been under fire after a March 10th, 2011, report claiming Kuwaiti police tortured two foreign migrant workers to death after they were accused of stealing from farm owners and setting fire to their crops (Kuwaiti Authorities Torture Migrant Workers to Death 2011).

In this chapter, we consider definitions of war, torture, and terrorism provided by ordinary people from Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. We begin with a brief introduction to the cultural and historical context of the region, starting with the distinction between “Arab” and “Muslim.” Questions such as “Who is a Muslim?” and “Do their religious beliefs affect the way Muslims look at things such as war?” are important questions that must first be answered before responsible conclusions about perspectives on invasion in the Gulf States can be drawn. Muslims, by definition, are people who submit their soul, faith, and beliefs to God (Allah). According to Merriam-Webster Dictionaries, Arabs are defined as (a) a member of the Semitic people of the Arabian Peninsula or (b) a member of an Arab-speaking people. Now that these definitions have been established, it is important to note that not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. In fact, Arabs represent only 18 % of the Islamic population! Muslims comprise 20 % of the world’s population, with the largest concentration of Muslims living on the Indian subcontinent.

In these Muslim nations, the holy book is the Qu’ran, which has many similarities to earlier monotheistic texts, namely, the Jewish Bible (including the Torah) and the New Testament in the Christian Bible. These similarities include the belief in the God of Abraham and all of the prophets mentioned in both the Old and New Testament, the day after, the Virgin Mary, and that Jesus was a spirit and a word from God, and doing good deeds in life. In addition, all three religions share some laws and the belief in the Ten Commandments. The Islam religion began in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in what is today Saudi Arabia, with the work of prophet Mohammed Ben Abdellah and his journey to spread the word of God. As both the cradle for the Islamic religion and the final resting spot of Islam’s great prophet, Saudi Arabia remains vitally important to Muslims today.

Many Muslims within the Gulf States follow the Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic religious law (Shari’a). The most important aspect in the Wahhabi interpretation is the “essential oneness of God (Allah)” (Wahhabi 2011). Leaders are sworn in to do the work of Allah and are given tremendous power. Under this system, government leaders are believed to have God’s blessing. Therefore, dissent is discouraged because any objection to government can be deemed an objection to God. The result is the creation of an environment wherein power is centralized and human rights may be marginalized. Whereas the United States was created on the basis of a separation between church and state, religion continues to play a central role in the countries surrounding the Arab Gulf. In Oman, for example, dissent is not well received by the government. Abdullah Al Riyami, a citizen of Oman, was arrested on July 12, 2005, for criticizing the government. Not unlike the role of Julian Assange in the Wikileaks scandal, Al Riyami posted research on the Internet that did not portray the government in Oman in a very positive light. According to Amnesty International, such criticisms serve to educate the general population on their rights as people and to highlight the malfeasances of an overly powerful government (Amnesty International 2011a).

Some progress has been demonstrated by the government of Qatar to put more emphasis on the preservation of human rights; however, Amnesty International has criticized that government for its unwillingness to fully protect the rights of women (Amnesty International 2011b).

Torture, long an accepted practice in most parts of the world, continues to be identified by human rights groups as a problem in the Gulf States region. To give one example, towards the end of the twentieth century, the Bahrain monarchy appeared to have taken significant steps to reduce the prevalence of state-sponsored torture inside their borders. However, a 2007 Human Rights Watch report concluded that “officials again have used torture and ill-treatment, particularly during the interrogation of security suspects” (Human Rights Watch 2010). More recently, early in 2011, there were many antigovernment demonstrations in Bahrain in response to what was widely perceived as human rights violations and denial of political freedom.

Findings: Definitions of War, Terrorism, and Torture

This study examines individual perspectives regarding the definitions of war, torture, and terrorism, among citizens of the current Gulf States. These perspectives are vital to understand given the Gulf War and other recent wars in that region.

Methodology

We used the hard copy version of the Personal and Institutional Rights to Aggression and Peace Survey (PAIRTAPS; Malley-Morrison et al. 2006) to collect data from citizens of the Gulf Region. The PAIRTAPS’s three items associated with definitions of war, torture, and terrorism were coded and analyzed. Participants were invited to take the survey voluntarily in the cities of Kuwait, Kuwait; Manama, Bahrain; Muscat, Oman; and Doha, Qatar. All of the 179 people who participated in this study were born in the region and had at least one parent who was also born in the region. Participants were from Kuwait (41 % of the sample; n  =  73), Bahrain (27 %; n  =  48), Oman (21 %; n  =  37), and Qatar (12 %; n  =  21).

The sample size was relatively small and is not intended as a representative sample but rather as a convenience sample gathered for an exploratory study. The majority of the participants were male (n  =  107, 60 %), and their mean age was 31 years. More than 75 % of the sample was Muslim (n  =  139, 78 %), with two participants identifying as Agnostic (1 %) and 21 % (n  =  38) not reporting a religion. Forty percent of the sample (n  =  72) reported their religious sect as generally “Muslim,” whereas 31 % (n  =  56) specified their religion as Sunni and 6 % (n  =  11) as Shiite.

Coding manuals for definitions of war, terrorism, and torture were developed by the GIPGAP group utilizing a grounded theory perspective. Responses were divided into codeable units as long as each unit had an independent significant meaning.

Definitions of War

Overall, 159 participants responded to the item “What is your definition of war?” which yielded 345 codeable units. Within these definitions of war, five major themes were identified: outcomes, moral judgments, causes of war, qualifications (criteria) for war, and a focus on conflict; there was also a category for uncodeable responses.

The major category of outcomes accounted for 49 % of all the definitions of war provided in the Gulf States sample. Table 6.1 provides examples of responses coded into the outcomes category. Concrete outcomes comprised 53 % of the outcomes responses and 26 % of the total codeable units in the sample. An example of a concrete outcome response was that war is “two countries fighting and loss of souls and money.” In addition, 32 % of the outcome responses (16 % of the total codeable units) referred to abstract outcomes such as “loss of souls” and “fear.” Some responses did not clearly point to either concrete or abstract outcomes and were coded in the more general category of outcomes. Examples of such general outcomes responses include defining war as “[a] situation that affect[s] two countr[ies] for different reason[s]”; such definitions accounted for 8 % of all war definitions and 15 % of the definitions of war focusing on outcomes.
Table 6.1

Sample definitions of war responses: outcomes and moral judgments

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Sample response

Outcomes of war

General

8 (15)

Kuwait

Suffering

Oman

Dark destiny

Bahrain

Fear, suffering

Qatar

Torturing people

Concrete

26 (53)

Kuwait

Death

Oman

Massive destruction of each progress civilization

Bahrain

Destruction, final destruction, and the oppression of humanity throughout history

Qatar

Vandalism, killing, and destruction

Abstract

16 (32)

Kuwait

Destruction, pains, suffering, decadence, and deterioration

Bahrain

Destruction and instability

Moral judgment

13

Kuwait

Horrible events that cause harm, resentment, and hate among nations

 

Oman

Ruin human being

 

Qatar

Chaos lead to destroy society

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for outcomes of war and it subcategories. The first percentage figure is the percentage of outcomes coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of war. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of outcomes coded into the subcategory out of all the responses in the outcomes of war category. Moral judgment is a major category with no subcategories; consequently, it has no second number in parentheses

The next most common type of response provided a moral judgment regarding war, such as in the previously cited response describing war as “horrible events.” Such responses represented 13 % of all the definitions of war. One participant provided several codeable units exhibiting judgments about war: “War is one of the most hideous crimes humans can commit. God created us to live in peace and harmony, not to fight each other. It is disgusting to see human beings kill each other.”

Table 6.2 presents examples of definitions coded into the major category of causes of war and its subcategories. Thirteen percent of the definitions of war were coded into the general causes of war category and included responses indicating that war occurs “for some goal” (which was coded specifically into the motivation/intent subcategory that accounted for 8 % of the cause definitions). Responses indicating a moral judgment regarding causes of war were the most frequently occurring kind of response within all the definitions focusing on causes, comprising 42 % of all responses emphasizing war’s causes. For example, defining war as “the proliferation of murder without causes” judges war itself as murder but also explains that the reasons for war are unjustified (in that this participant indicates that there are no justifiable causes for the violence). Definitions of war focusing on political causes of war were another fairly common type of cause definition (29 % of all the definitions referring to a cause).
Table 6.2

Sample definitions of war: causes

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Causes of war

General

1 (13)

Kuwait

It is a conflict that occurs for reasons that are not announced or announced

Motivation/intent

1 (8)

Kuwait

Conflict and continuous killing for some goal

Political

2 (29)

Kuwait

Conflicts between countries in order to occupy land or society

Oman

The injustice of nation leaders

Qatar

The erratic behavior of States to resolve a problem

Self defense

1 (8)

Kuwait

Should only be for defense

Moral judgment on cause

3 (42)

Kuwait

Love of destructive violence that is in control over the minds of humanity

Oman

Killing without reasons

Bahrain

Aggression on others for no reason

Qatar

Fight between two countries unnecessary

Note. Two figures are presented in the percent column for causes of war for each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of causes of war coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of war. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of causes of war coded into the subcategory out of all the war definitions in the causes of war categories, respectively

Table 6.3 presents examples and information on the types of responses that fell into the last two major definitions of war categories: conflict and qualifications. Overall, 7 % of all definitions of war fell into the major category of conflict, with 14 % of conflict responses describing nonphysical conflicts and 86 % describing general or physical conflict. The general conflict or physical conflict category contained responses such as “the concept of aggression between countries” or “conflict and fight[s] between states.” The category accounting for nonphysical responses was created to capture responses such as “political disagreement.” Overall, 20 % of all definitions of war were coded into the major category of qualifications. Ten percent of responses overall—and 48 % of the qualifications definitions—fell into the subcategory of officially recognized groups and qualified war by describing it as a process that occurs among groups that are officially recognized as holding political power; for example, war occurs when “two or more countries fight each other.” Other relatively popular qualifications for war were scale or intensity of conflict (28 % of the qualifications) and one-sided aggression (23 % of the qualifications).
Table 6.3

Sample definitions of war: conflict and qualifications

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example responses

Focus on conflict only

7 (86)

Kuwait

Conflict

Oman

Military conflict

Qatar

Conflict and fight

Nonphysical conflict

1 (14)

Kuwait

Disagreement in opinions between countries

Qatar

Political disagreement

Qualifications for war

   

Scale or intensity of conflict

6 (28)

Kuwait

Is a mass killing of one country by another regardless of the causes

Oman

Frightened, killing, and damage

Bahrain

Invade, kill, and ruined nations

Qatar

Destruction, killing, and looting

Officially recognized groups

10 (48)

Kuwait

Conflicts between countries in order to occupy land or society

Oman

Fight between two or more countries

Bahrain

Fighting between two countries

Qatar

The erratic behavior of states to resolve a problem

One-sided aggression

5 (23)

Kuwait

Aggression against another country and violating its rights and security

Oman

One state invaded another one

Bahrain

Aggression of one or more country against another

Qatar

When state attack another state

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of war for each subcategory. The first figure is the percentage of war definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of war. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of war definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the war definitions in the conflict or qualifications of war categories, respectively

Definitions of Torture

Overall, 152 participants responded to the item, “What is torture?,” and yielded 276 codeable units. In addition to uncodeable responses, there were six major thematic categories: methods, outcomes, judgments, a focus on intent, characteristics of the individual being tortured, and conditions that give rise to torture (the latter two categories had few responses from this sample and thus are not considered further).

Table 6.4 provides examples of responses coded into the two major categories of methods and outcomes. Responses describing methods accounted for 35 % of the total codeable units. Within the methods category, the most commonly given subtype of torture definition was physical methods of torture. One example of such a response comes from a Kuwaiti man who described in detail that torture is “[when] the person feels pain and watch[es] himself dying but does not die, in fact [torture] is worse than death, it is blood and piercing eyes (inserting sharp objects in the eyes), and forcefully removing nails, and sexual pain.” Physical methods accounted for 17 % of the total codeable units and 49 % of the methods major category. Psychological methods were the second most commonly mentioned methods (30 % of methods responses) and included responses like “hatred to others” and “humiliation.”
Table 6.4

Sample definitions of torture: methods and outcomes

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Focus on method

General

1 (2)

Qatar

Torture human by using different methods

Harmful method

7 (19)

Qatar

Hurt person and make him suffer

 

Oman

The use of aggression

Physical

17 (49)

Bahrain

The exhausting of a body that is from Allah

  

Oman

Hitting people

Psychological

11 (30)

Oman

Dread

 

Kuwait

Is exposing a person to what he cannot tolerate of moral and psychological pains, regardless of the cause

Focus on outcome

2 (25)

Bahrain

The destruction of [a] human

Physical

3 (45)

Oman

Killing and humiliation

Psychological

2 (30)

Kuwait

The destruction of souls, deforming bodies, and handicapping

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of torture in each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the method or outcome of torture categories, respectively

Similar responses (see Table 6.4) referred to outcomes of torture and were distinguished from methods because they reflected a long-term perspective looking at permanent damage. Outcomes represented 7 % of the total codeable units, with physical outcomes representing the largest subcategory with 45 % of the outcomes responses, and psychological outcomes getting somewhat less emphasis (30 % of all outcomes responses). The response “deformity, hitting” serves as an example to illustrate the difference between outcomes and methods: whereas hitting is coded for physical method, deformity indicates a permanent outcome or enduring effect that the torture has on the torture survivor.

The largest major category for definitions of torture was judgments, with 42 % of the definitions falling into that category (see Table 6.5). Judgments could show tolerance or intolerance,and therefore, the major category was divided into two major subcategories of tolerance (including the general tolerance and necessary subcategories) or intolerance (including the general intolerance, unlawful, immoral, sadistic, and violation of human rights subcategories). One response did not clearly show support or rejection of torture and was coded into the general judgments subcategory.
Table 6.5

Sample definitions of torture: judgments

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Judgment

General

<1 (<1)

Bahrain

Worse action could be done

Tolerant

1 (3)

Oman

It could be beneficial in some cases

  

Fair to the criminals and the oppressors, the oppressors of the innocent

Necessary

1 (3)

Qatar

Sometimes needed

General intolerance

11 (26)

Bahrain

No excuse to do this act

 

Qatar

Beating without right

Unlawful

5 (13)

Bahrain

Criminality

Immoral

15 (36)

Kuwait

Not taking care of a soul from Allah, The High Praise to Him

  

Oman

Unethical

  

Kuwait

Must not exist among people

Sadistic

2 (4)

Qatar

Savage

Violation of human rights

5 (13)

Kuwait

Stealing the freedom of a person

 

Oman

Rejected because [it is] against humanitarian principles

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of torture for each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the judgment of torture category

Tolerant responses comprised a small minority (3 %) of judgment responses (1 % of the total sample). Responses indicating tolerance were equally divided among those justifying torture as either necessary/last resort (e.g., “sometime[s] necessary”) or those showing general tolerance (e.g., “[torturers] have the right to torture the oppressor”).

Responses displaying intolerance of torture fell into categories rejecting torture as unlawful (13 % of intolerant responses), immoral (36 %), sadistic (4 %), a violation of human rights (13 %), and general intolerance (26 %). Interestingly, no responses in this sample rejected torture with the argument that torture is unnecessary, which was a category developed due to the prevalence of responses found in a mixed international sample used for coding manual development. Responses describing torture as immoral were not only the most common type of intolerant response, but they also represented the second most common subcategory of definitions of torture overall (15 % of the total codeable units for the torture item). Many responses contained many multiple codeable units, all of which expressed intolerance of torture: “Torture is one of the most inhumane acts a person can commit. It is a violation of human rights. Nobody is ever deserving of any sort of torture, whether physical or psychological.” Another participant explained, “in Islam [torture] is prohibited and inhumane.”

Among responses defining torture as unlawful were those equating it with “unjustified crime” or a “crime against the people.” Some responses specifically identified torture as a violation of human rights or, as one participant wrote, torture is “the ruins of human rights.” Responses coded as sadistic were similar to those that described torture as “savage,” consistent with the idea one participant offered that torture derives from the “desire to make people suffer, it might be [a] psychological problem.” Generally intolerant responses did not offer specific reasons for rejecting torture but rather explained, for example, that torture is an “unaccepted method” or is “something ugly and bad.”

Finally, 10 % of the responses comprised the major category of intentions behind torture (see Table 6.6), with 25 % of intent responses describing torture as occurring as a punishment. Responses offering punishment as the intention for torture might also include an indication of tolerance, for example, explaining that “[torture] is the punishment for everyone who commits and crime and does sin.” Another participant rejected torture while defining torture as punishment, writing that torture is “the use of deviant means to punish individuals.”
Table 6.6

Definitions of torture sample responses: intent

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Focus on intent

General

2 (18)

Qatar

Methods [used] on the individuals for a particular purpose

Destructive intent

1 (7)

Kuwait

Physical and psychological punishment that [people] suffer for a reason or no reason

Constructive intent

2 (21)

Kuwait

The use of all methods of hitting and insults for some goal

Information

2 (21)

Kuwait

The use of all immoral methods in order to investigate a person

  

Bahrain

Extract information [with] hate

Punishment

3 (25)

Bahrain

The use of deviant means to punish individuals

  

Oman

Punishment of [an] individual [who] did something or not

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of torture in each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the intent of torture category

Definitions of Terrorism

Overall, 157 participants responded to the item, “What is your definition of terrorism?” yielding 228 total codeable units. Definitions of terrorism were analyzed on two levels: (1) each entire definition was coded for valence, and then (2) definitions were divided into codeable units and analyzed for themes (as with definitions of war and torture).

Definitions were considered in their entirety as to whether they reflected positive, negative, or neutral valence or if they displayed an effort to understand terrorism (see Table 6.7). The only example of a positive definition came from a woman from Oman, who wrote “beautiful.” It is possible that she responded to the wrong prompt, as participants were also asked their definitions of peace, with the spaces for responding appearing close to one another. A slight majority of participants provided neutral definitions (57 % of all terrorism responses) with many participants also providing negative definitions (43 %). Neutral definitions describe terrorism without indicating a judgment towards terrorism, such as defining terrorism as “scaring the safe citizens in all places in the country” or “fear and destruction.” Negative definitions express complete rejection of terrorism, for example, “Terrorism is a hideous act of psychological torture. Since it is considered as a form of torture, it violates human rights and should be obliterated.”
Table 6.7

Definitions of terrorism: valence

Coding category

Percent

Country

Sample response

Negative

43

Kuwait

The enemy of humanity

Oman

The killing of innocent civilian for no reasons

Bahrain

Terrorism people for illegitimate purposes

Qatar

Not in Islam

Neutral

57

Kuwait

Rejection of the reality that he lives in

Oman

Civilian killing

Bahrain

Fear, assault

Qatar

Extremism

Effort to understand terrorism

0

Oman

New phrase that target[s] Muslims

 

Oman

The movement expresses a misunderstanding and impede[s] [the] political state

Positive

0

Oman

Beautiful

Note: The numbers reported reflect the percent of the single coding category out of the total codeable units

Additionally, less than 1 % of definitions of terrorism expressed an effort to understand terrorism, such as the following response describing terrorists as a “group of individuals [who are] misled which stands under the false [logic] to disperse fear among people.” This response does not fully condemn terrorists but rather sees them as misled people.

In regard to themes, in addition to uncodeable responses, there were six major categories: methods, outcomes, causes, judgments, and real-life references (the last of which was not represented in this sample). Similarly, as with definitions of torture, the most commonly coded subcategory among definitions of terrorism captured responses describing physical methods (12 % of total codeable units).

Table 6.8 shows examples of responses describing methods, which as a major category accounted for 20 % of the total codeable units. Responses describing specifically physical methods,such as “civilian killing” and “explosions and harm to innocent people,” comprised 63 % of the methods responses. Mental methods, such as the response discussed earlier defining terrorism as “a hideous act of psychological torture,” comprised 21 % of the methods responses.
Table 6.8

Definitions of terrorism sample responses: methods

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Process/method

General

3 (16)

Kuwait

Aggression

Oman

Curled method

Bahrain

The torment and killing peoples without guilt

Physical

12 (63)

Kuwait

Is robbery and stealing and hitting in the wrong way

Oman

Killing and devastation

Bahrain

Act of violence and detestation

Qatar

Killing innocent without right

Mental

4 (21)

Kuwait

Psychological torture

Oman

Horror

Bahrain

Brain washing the youth and pushing them to do evil to others

Qatar

Intimidation and insecurity

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of terrorism for each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the process/method torture definitions

Again, as with definitions of torture, definitions of terrorism that described outcomes were differentiated from those describing methods because outcomes indicated the potential long-term effects of terrorism. The major category of outcomes accounted for 34 % of the total codeable units. Responses described physical (38 % of outcomes) or emotional outcomes (25 % of outcomes), indicated a disruption of peace and stability (35 % of outcomes), or provided general outcomes (6 % of outcomes). Responses sometimes contained ­multiple outcomes such as “fear and instability” (an emotional outcome and a disruption of stability). Table 6.9 provides more examples of outcomes, along with the percent of responses in each category out of the entire set of definitions of terrorism.
Table 6.9

Definitions of terrorism sample responses: outcomes

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Outcomes

General

2 (6)

Kuwait

Violation of the rights of others

Oman

Devastation

Physical

13 (38)

Kuwait

Very painful and leads to destruction, deterioration

Oman

Hitting up a person and sometimes up to death

Bahrain

Loss of life and fear

Emotional

7 (21)

Kuwait

Scaring the safe citizens in all places in the country

Bahrain

A phenomena that carried (brought) loss of hope and sadness

Disruption of peace and stability

12 (35)

Kuwait

Trying to shake the security of a country by opposing persons or groups

Oman

The desire of instability and destruction

Bahrain

Conflicting with peace

Qatar

Instability, violation of international treaties

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of terrorism in each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the outcome of torture category

Responses describing causes as to why terrorism occurs accounted for 20 % of the total codeable units. Table 6.10 shows examples from the various subcategories under causes. The most common kind of cause response (47 % of the major category) made a point about terrorism being different from religionor against religion. For example, a woman from Kuwait defined terrorism as “a group of people fighting the government while hidden behind the name of Islam, but it does nothing but destruction and killing and spreading terror among people.” Another participant simply wrote that terrorism is the “defamation of Islam.”
Table 6.10

Definitions of terrorism sample responses: causes

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Cause/motivation

General

3 (16)

Kuwait

Rejection of the reality that he lives in

Oman

The desire of instability and destruction

Bahrain

Act of detestation

Qatar

Extremist

Ideological motivation

2 (11)

Kuwait

Fanaticism for an opinion and trying to apply it on the society by force

Oman

Group of extremist, an act that Muslims have stuck with

Bahrain

The killing of innocent souls for political purposes

Political agenda

3 (16)

Kuwait

The use of violence or threat against political purposes

Oman

The movement expresses a misunderstanding and impede made political state

International

1 (5)

Kuwait

Trying to shake the security of a country by opposing persons or groups

Emotional causes

1 (5)

Kuwait

A new term given to anyone who revenges from a certain situation

Not religion

9 (47)

Kuwait

Islam forbade it

Oman

Criminal ravage group destroyed the Islamic image

Bahrain

Terrorism has no religion

Qatar

Defamation of Islam

No motivation

0 (0)

Oman

Killing innocent people for no reason

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of terrorism in each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the cause or motivation of torture categories, respectively

Similar to torture, the largest major category of definitions of terrorism responses was judgments (26 % of the total set of definitions of terrorism). Table 6.11 provides examples of judgments responses, including those in the subcategories for moral judgments and legal judgments. Judgmental responses were most frequently coded into the general moral judgments subcategory (48 % of judgments); these responses made moral judgments that did not specifically point to the acts or motivation behind terrorism. Responses involving general moral judgments include definitions defining terrorism as “unethical,” “Satan,” and “black poison” and comprised 63 % of the moral judgments category.
Table 6.11

Sample definitions of terrorism: judgments

Coding Category

Percent

Country

Example response

Judgments

General

2 (13)

Kuwait

Killing selves without a right

Bahrain

Disgust

Qatar

Not excused

Moral judgment

12 (48)

Kuwait

The disease of the society

Oman

Unethical

Bahrain

A picture that reflects the reality of human beasts

Qatar

Underdevelopment of human

Immoral acts

3 (12)

Kuwait

Brain washing the youth and pushing them to do evil to others

Oman

Injustice to the other rights

Bahrain

Violation of the rights of others

Motivation

4 (16)

Kuwait

A group of individuals who have wrong views that they concluded and came out with a fanatic thought

Oman

Group of individuals that misled which stands under the false logos to disperse fear among people

Bahrain

Terrorism people for illegitimate purposes

Appeal to relativity

0 (0)

Oman

The movement expresses a misunderstanding and impede made political state

Bahrain

A slogan raised against a group that kills and torture with a claim that they are Muslims

Legal judgment

2 (8)

Kuwait

Criminality

Oman

Injudicious

Qatar

Instability, violation of international treaties

Illegal acts

1 (4)

Kuwait

Terrorism is a hideous act of psychological torture. Since it is considered as a form of torture, it violates human rights and should be obliterated

Oman

Individuals committing crimes

Note: Two figures are presented in the percent column for definitions of terrorism in each subcategory. The first percentage figure is the percentage of torture definitions coded into the specified subcategory out of the total number of definitions of torture. The second percentage (in parentheses) indicates the percentage of torture definitions coded into the subcategory out of all the torture definitions in the judgment of torture categories

The definitions of terrorism also included responses identifying immoral acts involved in terrorism and the in motivation behind terrorism, both seen respectively in the following example: terrorism is “a disabled way to solve problems because ignorance is the basis.” These responses comprised 12 % and 16 % of judgments responses, respectively. The legal judgments category was also divided into general judgments, such as “injustice,” and those whose judgment focuses on the acts of terrorism, such as “individuals committing crimes.” The general legal judgments category accounted for 8 % of judgments, while the illegal acts subcategory accounted for 4 % of all the judgments responses. There were no responses referring to legal judgments regarding motivation.

It was only on definitions of terrorism that exploratory statistical analyses yielded some demographic differences. T-tests revealed that in comparison to people without a relative in the military, people with family members in the military provided significantly more judgments when giving definitions of terrorism. t-Tests also indicated that people with relatives in the military provided more responses falling under the moral judgments subcategories regarding terrorism and fewer responses falling under legal judgments subcategories regarding terrorism (see Table 6.12). Chi-square analyses revealed only one group difference in likelihood of using a particular theme: specifically, significantly more men than women explicitly said that terrorism is not a product of a particular religion.
Table 6.12

Definitions of terrorism: t-test findings for demographic group means of coding categories

Coding Category

Group 1

Group 2

t

df

 

Relative military

No relative military

  

Terrorism legal judgment sum

Terrorism moral judgment sum

Terrorism judgments sum

0.04 (0.19)

0.43 (0.57)

0.50 (0.58)

0.13 (0.34)

0.20 (0.40)

0.28 (0.45)

1.71*

1.90*

1.75*

83.49

39.97

43.22

Note: Sum at the end of a variable name indicates that the variable was created by adding scores on all the subcategories of the major category. Please refer to the Methods chapter for a more detailed description of how these variables were created. Standard deviations appear in parentheses next to means

*p  ≤  0.05

A final set of exploratory analyses was conducted using scores created by combining common categories (e.g., causes, outcomes, and moral judgments) across definitions. These analyses revealed only two statistically significant findings. Specifically, t-tests indicated that people without a relative in the military provided significantly more causes when defining war, torture, and terrorism than people without family members in the military, and chi-square analyses with Fisher’s exact tests revealed that significantly more people who had never been in the military used a moral judgment when defining war, torture, or terrorism than people who had served in the military.

Discussion

The survey responses received from the participants in this study are useful in highlighting the extent to which participants from the Gulf States are generally critical of violent tactics and the extent to which they reject the linking of terrorism with Islam. Although some media outlets make it seem as if Islamic and Muslim people endorse the terrorist acts of extremist military factions like the Taliban (e.g., Karim 2003), the current study, and other studies like it, has demonstrated that the general population in these countries does not support the death and violence that these organizations have produced. Only one participant provided a definition of terrorism that seemed to have a positive valence, while nearly half of the participants were very negative about terrorism in their definitions. The remainder of participants provided neutral definitions, making it unclear what their overall orientation towards terrorism was.

One other interesting note about the terrorism responses was the tendency for participants to mention the separation between religion and terrorism. While the terrorist organizations use religion as a major selling point, citizens not affiliated with these groups deny their religious legitimacy (Al-Khattar 2003). The fact that nearly half of the participants felt it necessary to make this point could be evidence of their distaste for the idea that these organizations are in some way warriors of Islam and probably their recognition that many people in the West make a fallacious link between terrorism and Islam as a religion (Karim 2003).

Views on torture, like the views on terrorism, were primarily negative. Only 7 % of those who used judgment statements when defining torture claimed any right for its use. The rest of the ­judgment statements harshly condemned its use. One participant even stated that “[t]orture is one of the most inhumane acts a person can commit.” The perspectives on war were far less negative than the perspectives on torture on terrorism, however. Some participants did express strong hatred for war; as one participant posited, “God created us to live in peace and harmony, not to fight each other. It is disgusting to see human beings kill each other.” However, when compared to the definitions of torture and terrorism, people seemed to have a much higher tolerance for its prevalence. War, unlike terrorism and torture, is not seen as being the actions of citizens. Instead, war is seen as the language of nations.

One interesting finding from the exploratory quantitative analyses was that participants who did not have military experience were more likely than their counterparts to use moral judgments when defining war, torture, or terrorism. In essence, it seems the harsh realities of war tend to override the idealistic moral language often associated with these words. Perhaps these firsthand exposure to war and death enlightened these participants to the sometimes random and meaningless ways lives can be taken. In an environment such as the military, where the most valuable human right—the right to life—can be taken so quickly, the inherent rights of any individual are minimized. It may be that individuals who have direct experience with the military life can see these losses better than others.

References

  1. Al-Khattar AM (2003) Religion and Terrorism, An Interfaith Perspective, Praeger Publishers: Westport, CoGoogle Scholar
  2. Amnesty International (2011a) Further information on UA 187/05(MDE 20/004/2005, 15 July 2005): fear of torture or ill-treatment/possible prisoners of conscience [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE20/005/2005/en/4a2fe811-fa1a-11dd-999c-47605d4edc46/mde200052005en.pdf. 20 July 2005
  3. Amnesty International (2011b) Qatar human rights. Retrieved 18 March 2011 from http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/qatar
  4. Human Rights Watch (2010) Torture redux: the revival of physical coercion during interrogations in Bahrain http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/02/08/torture-redux
  5. Karim KH (2003) Islamic Peril: Media and Global Violence. Montreal: Black Rose BooksGoogle Scholar
  6. Kuwaiti Authorities Torture Migrant Workers to Death (2011) Migrant rights. Retrieved 18 March 2011 from http://www.migrant-rights.org/2011/03/12/kuwaiti-authorities-torture-migrant-workers-to-death/
  7. Malley-Morrison K, Daskalopoulos M, You HS (2006) International perspectives on governmental aggression. Int Psychol Rep 10(1):19–20Google Scholar
  8. Wahhabi (2011) Global security. Retrieved 18 March 2011, from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/gulf/wahhabi.htm

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heyam Mohammed
    • 1
  • Raja Tayeh
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Planje
    • 3
  • Gregory Malley
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of EducationKuwait UniversityKuwait cityKuwait
  2. 2.Institutional Research, Doane CollegeCreteUSA
  3. 3.Counseling ProgramLesley UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.The Carroll SchoolLincolnUSA

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