The first key distinction between the terms ‘terrorist’ and ‘revolutionary’ is the obvious point that one has hugely negative connotations whereas the other has a more positive light placed on it. In recent years, the term ‘terrorism’ has been heavily demonized by the media and rightly so, in the light of tragedies such as 9/11 and the London bombings, we are faced with a world a minority of people are willing to kill others in order to impose their views. However, revolutionaries are seen in a far more positive, enlightened way and often are presented in a way that encourages people to support them. For example, the recent events in Egypt where the Egyptian people protested to remove Hosni Mubarak from power after thirty years, in favour of installing a democracy: millions around the world celebrated with Egypt after their attempt at revolution was successful.
Terrorism is generally seen as being more negative through its etymological roots in the word ‘terror’. Arguably, terrorists would see themselves as revolutionaries as they are fighting for what they believe to be just, however their approaches are often extremely different from those of a revolutionary. Whilst a terrorist and a revolutionary both often use violent tactics, a terrorist usually targets their victims in terms of how devastating the loss of life will be. Terrorists, such as the infamous extremist Muslims, attack Western culture as a whole because they want to see their beliefs being imposed. Revolutionaries are far more specific with their aims and often, their targets are aimed at particular leaders: for example, the previously mentioned revolution in Egypt to remove their leader, and the Russian revolution which took place to remove the ineffectual leader, Tsar Nicholas II.
Both terms can be perceived in negative and positive lights, depending on your own background and belief system although in the modern world, terrorism is demonized by the mass media because of the prevalence of terrorism in recent years particularly. However, revolution is something which is perceived as being for the greater good and is therefore a more accepted method of upholding beliefs.
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