Muslim Group Upset by Bush's Use of 'Islamic Fascists'

Alison Espach | July 7, 2008 | 8:06pm EDT
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( - A Muslim group criticized President Bush for saying that America is "at war with Islamic fascists" after U.K. authorities arrested 24 British citizens of Pakistani origin in an attempt to bomb numerous flights to the U.S. Thursday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the president's "hot button" terminology puts the name of Islam and the Muslim community at risk.

Bush called the attempted terrorist attack "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, believes Bush should not even mention Islam when referring to the would-be terrorists.

"We have to isolate these individuals because there is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic faith that encourages people to be cruel or to be vicious or to be criminal," Awad said. "Muslims world wide know that for sure."

Middle East expert and Islamic history expert Daniel Pipes told Cybercast News Service that Awad's claim is a "debatable proposition."

"Islam is a political religion in a way that none other is," said Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and author of "Militant Islam Reaches America." "There are many elements within the religion and the history of Islam that suggest there is a dynamic of conquest.

"There is something inherently expansionist about Islam," Pipes continued. "Jihad is expansionist warfare."

Pipes praised Bush specifically for his use of the phrase "Islamic fascists."

"For the president to articulate who the enemy is so clearly and unambiguously is a huge step forward," Pipes said. "You cannot diagnose and treat a disease without first identifying and naming it. So, a strategist cannot defeat an enemy without first identifying it and naming it."

Muslims should not be disturbed by the term "Islamic fascists," Pipes argued, because Bush is "identifying not Islam the religion, but a radical form of Islam."

"Those groups that are protesting tend to support that form of Islam," Pipes contended. He believes most Muslims have no problem with the phrase because they understand it to refer to an extreme form of Islam separate from their beliefs.

In addition to limiting the president's comments, CAIR wants the U.S. media to disassociate Islam with terrorists "to make sure we don't start a religious war against Islam and Muslims." The group says American reporters should adopt the policies of the British media when identifying suspected terrorists.

Most British media will not identify terrorists as "Muslim," "Islamic" or "Islamists" even when physical evidence shows they were motivated by beliefs based on Islamic teachings or writings.

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the CAIR board, also anticipates a negative backlash against the Muslim community.

"We also urge local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with Muslim leaders to deter hate crimes," Ahmed said. "It is also important that our fellow Americans understand that Muslims are law-abiding citizens who should not be targeted or singled out because of their faith or national origin."

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