What Happens When You Blame All Muslims for Terrorist Attacks

March 23rd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

It happens without fail. In the aftermath of extremist violence — such as the attacks in Brussels, Belgium, that left more than 30 people dead on Tuesday — there's a knee-jerk reaction by some to shift blame on a general population, namely Muslims, for actions carried out by Islamic extremists.

That seemed to be the reaction of one Twitter user, Matthew Doyle, whose post about his encounter with a Muslim woman in Croydon, England, on Tuesday became a subject of controversy on the social media network, inspiring a flurry of sarcastic responses from other users who took issue with Doyle's apparent generalization.

Matthew Doyle

"I confronted a Muslim women [sic] yesterday in Croydon," Doyle wrote. "I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'Nothing to do with me'. A mealy mouthed reply."

The post was subsequently deleted, but not before the Twitter world lashed out at Doyle with a series of posts that mimic the style of the original.

Doyle tried to walk back the idea that his encounter with a Muslim woman was confrontational, per se, but also continued his Islamophobic rant, which included a racist slur against Muslims in a series of follow-up posts.

The reason that Doyle's tweet struck a nerve isn't simply the fact that his individual response was exceptionally offensive (it was, of course), but rather that it seems indicative of an Islamophobic sentiment that frequently metastasizes in response to incidents of Islamic extremism.

The actions and ideology of Islamic extremists is not reflective of the Muslim population as a whole — a point that President Barack Obama and Muslim leaders have repeatedly emphasized. And that's what Twitter users tried to make clear to Doyle since his tweet went viral.

ATTN: reached out to Doyle for comment but he couldn't be reached by the time of publication.

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