End Use of Islamophobic Term on CNN


Target: CNN Journalist Deborah Feyerick

Goal: Cease using the term “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” to explain terror attacks

During CNN’s recent coverage of the terrorist attack on Canadian Parliament, journalist Deborah Feyerick invoked the concept of “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” to possibly explain the attack. This term is rooted in condemnation of all Muslims and justification of suspicion against them, and has no place in legitimate journalism. Help urge Feyerick to stop using this problematic term in her reporting.

In the wake of the October 22, 2014 terror attacks at the Canadian National War Memorial and Parliament in Ottawa, CNN’s Deborah Feyerick reported on the authorities’ investigation of attacker Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, commenting that they were “very interested in finding out…whether this is [a case of] what’s called Sudden Jihad Syndrome.” While a journalist’s prerogative includes reporting on issues and terminology that do not necessarily reflect their own values, Feyerick’s approach was uncritical and legitimizing, suggesting that “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” is a viable, observed phenomenon. This, however, is far from the case–the term was coined by Neoconservative Daniel Pipes and used to justify his stance that all Muslims should be considered potential terrorists.

This term, then, is a deeply problematic one and is rooted in a perspective that condemns all Muslims as inherently dangerous. Feyerick’s inclusion of it served only as a tacit endorsement and was reflective of the culture of uncritical Islamophobia in America today. Sign the petition below to communicate these issues and urge Feyerick to steer clear of this terminology in the future.


Dear Ms. Feyerick,

In your recent coverage of the Ottawa terror attack on October 22 with CNN, I was disappointed to see you use the term “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” to discuss a line of investigation the authorities were pursuing with the attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. While the term may be gaining legitimacy in the ever-increasing culture of Islamophobia in the United States (which is an issue in and of itself), it is still rooted in a problematic universal condemnation of all Muslims. As such, I would urge you to avoid the term in the future.

The concept of “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” was initially introduced by Neoconservative commentator and noted Islamophobe Daniel Pipes to describe Muslims that “suddenly or unexpectedly turn against civilized, Western society and engage in acts of terror.” In addition to capitalizing on the racist trope of a dichotomy between the “civilized Western world” and the “others,” the term was used by Pipes to justify his stance that all Muslims should be considered potential terrorists. The term is so problematic, in fact, that Wikipedia refuses to allow an entry for it on their online encyclopedia website.

Bearing all this context in mind, I hope you will agree that “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” is not a term that should be the object of any sort of legitimizing power. It is a concept that was created from Islamophobia and serves only to foster more Islamophobia, especially when presented uncritically by the media. I urge you to stop using the term altogether in the future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Вени Марковски via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. What a pathetic petition this is

  2. You’re right, Dave, but it’s actually worse than pathetic.

    It amounts to the kind of censorship that many Islamist groups have been getting away with, especially CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), who wants to shut down any and all criticism of the horrible things about Islam, and there are many. It is a disservice to keep the American Public in the dark.

    We need just the opposite: media that is willing to tell the truth and not be held hostage to Islamic intimidation.

  3. Suppression in the guise of “Political Correctness”

  4. Guess Rodneys confusion is the result of ignorance
    jihad is the way mohammedans spread their vile beliefs and have done so for 1400 years

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