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Expanding the Concept of Terrorism Possible Interpretations after the Orlando Shooting

Analysis by Máté Szalai and Péter Wagner

In the middle of June 2016, Omar Mateen committed the most severe mass shooting in the history of the United States at the Pulse night club in Orlando. The first interpretations focused on terrorism and the spread of radical Islamism, nonetheless the information that surfaced afterwards pointed to different motivations. The main question is where we can draw the line between hate crimes, political murders on the one hand and terrorist acts on the other. The present analysis aims at presenting the different frameworks of interpretations regarding the Orlando shooting and to highlight the importance of the differentiation between terrorism and “traditional” crimes. The case sheds light on the tendency of the “inflation” of terrorism, namely the process in which the content of the term is getting wider and wider in the Western public discourse as being used in a growing number of cases, which, ultimately, can negatively affect the efficiency of counter-terrorism efforts.

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