Recently, the fatal shooting of nine African Americans at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, raised the question of how the same crimes can actually be viewed to have very different intentions by the media and politicians. One won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Wednesday’s shooting and excuses will be made for the crimes of a white man. African American criminals are thugs, Muslim American criminals are terrorists, and white criminals are mentally ill and had a tough childhood.

The coverage of this hate crime has been largely subdued on Western media, though social media is erupting with outrage and has become the location for real debate over religion and race issues in America. The truth is that conservative American society is facing the same crisis that we have seen in many conservative Muslim countries: the targeting of minority sects and ethnicities. The Chapel Hill attack in February, where three young Muslims were murdered for their faith, mirrored the same response by authorities that the police was “questioning a person of interest… and there is no ongoing threat to the public”- and that was that. Where did he come from? Who influenced him? Was there any organisation he was associated with?

Roof, the shooter, travelled over 100 miles from his home to target the Emmanuel Church specifically. He was a white supremacist flags and wanted to “start a civil war.” In response mainstream conservatives — one of whom may even become the next US president — took to the airwaves to say that despite the shooter’s clearly-stated motives, the attack wasn’t on race but on Christianity. Trust white conservatives to make themselves out to be the victims of crime perpetuated on minorities. There really isn’t any critical mass of people out there “looking for Christians to kill them”. However, there are organised groups of people out there who are looking for black people to kill. That’s especially true in South Carolina, which is one of only five states without hate crimes legislation and has the highest per-capita concentrations of white supremacist groups in the country.

To claim that the Charleston shooting was anything other than an act of race-based terror is wrong. American leadership needs to wake up before it has large-scale civil-unrest. This time it wont just be the African American population that will rise up but other groups including Muslims, Hispanics and Native Americans will support protest and change.