‘Allahu Akbar!’ an everyday expression tarnished by terrorism

  • The Arabic phrase, which means simply “God is great,” has, it sometimes seems, become intertwined with terrorism.
  • Its origin is explicitly religious. It is said in the call to prayer that is heard five times day, and in the prayers that follow.
  • But it is heard far from the mosque, too.
  • “Something good will happen and people will say, ‘Congratulations’ — and they will proclaim God’s greatness as a way of recognizing what they see as the divine blessing,” said Mr. Hellyer, a scholar of religion and politics at the Atlantic Council who lives in London.
  • “Let’s say your football team is mounting an attack,” said Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian author. “You can say ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,” and you’re pushing them along, like, “Go for it, go for it, go for it.’”

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