Terrorism Explained: graphic novel guns down popular myths

A new book launched in Mumbai on Monday seeks to explain 'terrorism' in graphic non-fiction style, from the September 11 attacks in New York to smaller attacks around the world, including in India, Pakistan and Norway.

The book, Terrorism Explained: A Graphic Account, by author Ram Puniyani and cartoonist Sharad Sharma, was released by human rights activist Irfan Engineer and actor-activist Nandita Das on Monday.

Published by World Comics India and Mumbai-based Arth Prakashan, the book is the second in Puniyani and Sharma’s ‘Explained’ series — their first graphic book, Communalism Explained, was published in 2011.

“Before the September 11 attacks of 2001, most people referred to violent acts as ‘extremism’. After 9/11, media around the world not only started using the word ‘terrorism’, but also began associating it with Islam,” said Engineer, director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. “In reality, terrorism is not related to any religion, and we have seen acts of terror being committed by people from various religions.”

The book, says Engineer, attempts to challenge popular perceptions about terrorism and fundamentalism.

“Graphic novels are a popular genre today, so we have used this comic format to explore these complex issues,” added Sharma, a cartoonist and former journalist.

Speaking at the launch, Nandita Das said: “Today, in the name of terrorism, we have created a fear psychosis in the minds of so many people, but that is not going to solve the problem of violence. What we can do is make an effort to change our perceptions of others.”

As part of the book’s launch, the mass communication department of University of Mumbai will host an exhibition of 30 panels from Terrorism Explained and Communalism Explained, from August 20 to 23.

Sharma and Puniyani plan to release more books in the Explained series over the next few years, covering issues of gender, Dalit rights and tribal rights.


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