The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued a press release announcing that it welcomes a recent decision by the Associated Press (AP) to revise its Stylebook reference to the term “Islamist.” According to the CAIR announcement:
Friday, 05 April 2013 14:09 | | (WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/5/13) — The nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today said the decision by The Associated Press (AP) to revise its Stylebook reference to the term ‘Islamist’ is a ‘step in the right direction.’ Late last year, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) approached AP about modifying the reference, which had been added to its influential Stylebook. That entry read: ‘Islamist — Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.’ CAIR suggested that AP change its Stylebook to incorporate language similar to that used in the reference to ‘fundamentalist,’ which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself. Earlier this year, CAIR urged media outlets to drop the term because, ‘Unfortunately, the term ‘Islamist’ has become shorthand for ‘Muslims we don’t like.’ It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term ‘extremist,’ giving it an even more negative slant.’ In an update emailed yesterday to online Stylebook subscribers, AP modified the ‘Islamist’ reference to read:
‘An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.’ SEE: The Associated Press Revises Another Politically Charged Term
‘We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims,’ said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. ‘The key issue with the term ‘Islamist’ is not its continued use; the issue is its use almost exclusively as an ill-defined pejorative.’
A post from January discussed the original CAIR press release urging media outlets to discontinue using the term “islamist.”
In January 2008, the GMBDW posted an analysis of Muslim Brotherhood rhetorical tactics on terrorism. The first of the four tactics was described as follows:
1. DENIAL– Since the Brotherhood is pursuing Islamization and eventually Shariah (Islamic Law), it is necessary at all costs to deny that Islam as a religion has any connection to violence or terrorism. Of course, the Brotherhood represents Islamism as opposed to Islam in this regard but since the general audience does not understand that distinction, it is Islam which is the Brotherhood reference. They cannot afford to fail in this denial and the denial strategy is usually pursued through sophistry. That is, the Brotherhood claims that Islam is unfairly associated with terrorism while Christianity, Judaism, and other religions are not (e.g. Abortion bombers are not called Christian Terrorists) and/or that other religious terrorism is just as dangerous as Islamic terrorism. The Brotherhood may be winning this battle (see here.)
The US Brotherhood effort to remove terms such as “Jihad”, “Islamic Terrorism” and now “Islamism” is part of this larger rhetorical strategy. A post from September 2008 analyzes a law journal article on terrorism by Parvez Ahmed, former chairman of the Council on American Islamic relations (CAIR), which demonstrates all four themes if the Brotherhood strategy.
The GMBDW notes that the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood has conducted a long-running campaign to control the discourse surrounding Islam and terrorism. A post from May 2008 discussed a Department of Homeland Security memo urging employees not to use terms including ‘jihad,’ ‘jihadist’ or ‘Islamic terrorist’ in describing Islamic terrorism. As that post noted, the efforts of the US Brotherhood to change US counterterrorism language dates back to the 1988 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa:
Prior to the activities of Al Qaeda, MPAC and CAIR focused their efforts on defending the activities of Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, arguing as noted above that they were motivated by suffering and oppression. Following the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the Brotherhood groups were faced with a new issue- organized Islamic terrorists attacking the United States and killing civilians who were not party to any conflict involving Muslims. After initial denials that Muslims were involved in the attacks, the U.S Brotherhood groups began arguing that although the grievances were “legitimate”, the action were “un-Islamic.” In total, the U.S. Brotherhood effort is in accord with the larger Muslim Brotherhood notion of “defensive jihad” which holds that Jihad is justified where Muslims or “Muslim honor” is under attack. Therefore, under this definition, Hamas/Hezbollah violence is not terrorism because it is justified and Al Qaeda violence is not “Islamic” because it is not justified.
In March 2009 a post reported that during a Senate hearing on, two leaders of the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, an organization whose report promotes the agenda of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, expressed support for changing the language used to describe terrorism, a key objective of the U.S. Brotherhood. One of those leaders, Dahlia Mogahed who has close ties to the U.S. Brotherhood, went on to become an Obama Administration Faith Advisor with extensive contact to the administration’s Global Engagement Directorate, a four-person National Security Council team. A post from April 2010 reported that “religious terms” such as Islamic extremism and Jihad were to be removed from the document known as the National Security Strategy and noted that the Global Engagement Directorate was instrumental in the language change. A post from May 2010 suggests that even the FBI has apparently been open to the idea of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups reviewing anti-terrorism training materials for “offensive” language.
Documents released in the Holy Land Trial have revealed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as identifying the organization itself as being part of the US. Brotherhood. A recent post discussed an interview with the Deputy leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in which he confirms a relationship between his organization and CAIR. Investigative research posted on GMBDW had determined that CAIR had it origins in the U.S. Hamas infrastructure and CAIR and its leaders have a long history of defending almost all individuals accused of terrorism by the US. government, frequently calling such prosecutions a “war on Islam.” In 2009, a US federal judge ruled “The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.”