And I don’t mean that in the obvious sense: terrorism is a human rights violation and therefore reduces respect for human rights. I’m more interested in the indirect effects of terrorism on human rights. According to this study, terrorist attacks substantially diminish governments’ respect for human rights. Extrajudicial killings, political imprisonment, torture, attacks on privacy etc. are much more common in countries that have witnessed terrorist attacks. One commonly cited reason for this is the perceived necessity of balancing human rights and security. However, it’s not clear whether restrictions on human rights do indeed work to deter or fight terrorism – perhaps such restrictions just make terrorism more likely in the long run (oppression creates resentment). It’s also unclear whether terrorism is the real reason for the restrictions or merely a pretext.
If terrorists are indeed motivated by their hatred of “our freedom“, then they are extremely successful because they have forced democratic countries to destroy a substantial part of their own freedom. Examples are here.
And whether or not restrictions of freedom do effectively improve security in the short and in the long run, governments can’t claim that what they do is what the public wants: