The indiscriminate killing of innocents is an evil that should find no justification . Terrorism is terrorism. Yet, in public discourse, it tends to acquire labels that associate it with religious causes. The latest label-slapper is the actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, who has reportedly described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as free India’s “first terrorist" and said the killer was “a Hindu". In this, Haasan hurts the efforts of civil society to ensure that vile acts of violence are not tagged by any faith, even if carried out in its name.

This is not to say that we must deny any association of religious bigotry with illegal actions. That subject is for scholars to parse the intricacies of. However, with no space for nuance, labels like “Islamic" and “saffron" for terrorism are unfair. With no evidence that religious belief in itself causes violence, the murderous acts of a few self-avowed believers say nothing at all about the broader belief system they swear allegiance to. Also, such tags could perversely lend criminals a false aura of martyrdom. Religions are prone to being harnessed to political ideologies. Faith and politics form a dangerous mix. Let’s keep them apart.