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2006-08-13,12:39 PM

'Islamo-fascism' is an Oxymoron

By Enver Masud

The President and virtually every major U.S. news media persist in using oxymorons: Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism, and now, in the President's October 6, 2005 address to the National Endowment For Democracy, "Islamo-fascism."

The President repeated this rhetoric in his address today, October 25, 2005, at the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Luncheon, and again today.

For anyone with sufficient knowledge of Islam, Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism, Islamo-fascism, etc. are oxymorons. Muslims, as the Quran teaches (2:143), are "a community of the middle way." While some Muslims may properly be addressed as terrorists, etc., to define them as "Islamic" is an oxymoron.

Perhaps this is a little difficult for non-Muslims to understand because, unlike other faiths, the faith and the believer have different names: Islam and Muslim respectively.

Leaving aside the definition of terrorism for the moment, Muslim terrorist would be more accurate, but then one should be consistent when referring to Christian, Jewish, or Hindu terrorists.

However, what news media generally do is to refer to non-Muslim terrorists as belonging to a "cult", thereby, taking care not to smear non-Islamic faiths - Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

As for Islamo-fascism, Islam has no central authority - it does not meet the definition of fascism. Even when the community of Muslims (the ummah) had a central authority (the caliphate), it was neither totalitarian nor fascist. Lewis H. Lapham, editor of the American monthly Harper's Magazine, writes in the October 2005 issue that it is the U.S. that has become a fascist state.

The term "Islamic fundamentalism" presents another problem. Christian fundamentalistism was defined in The Fundamentals - a 12-volume collection of essays written in the period 1910-15. There is no generally accepted definition of Islamic fundamentalism. In one sense all Muslims are fundamentalists because they believe that the Quran is the Word of God.

When news media use the term "Islamic fundamentalism" they are not stating a fact, but a conclusion about Islam. They should then be prepared to provide the reasoning behind such usage by a scholarly analysis of the Quran that indeed this is what Islam teaches.

It would be more accurate to use the term Muslim fundamentalist, rather than Islamic fundamentalist. Hopefully, then the writer has checked out the fact that the person is a Muslim - "fundamentalist" is a conclusion they may draw independent of the Quran and/or Islam.

Looking at the issue from another perspective consider the terms "terrorism", "fundamentalist" etc. when applied to persons of other faiths or religions.

Thus one would say Jewish terrorist - not Judaic terrorist. Judaic or Christianic terrorism would be the equivalent of saying Islamic terrorism. Jewish or Christian terrorist would be the equivalent of saying Muslim terrorist.

Yet another way to look at the issue of "Islamic terrorism" is to ask: "What is the difference between Islamic terrorism, Christianic terrorism, and Judaic terrorism?"

Is the terrorism itself, somehow, different in each case, or is it merely the fact that it is being carried out by a Muslim, Christian, or Jew?

If one cannot define the difference, then isn't the term "Islamic terrorism" synonymous with Christian (or Christianic?) terrorism and Judaic terrorism? Could a Muslim perpetrate Christianic terrorism or Judaic terrorism? Clearly, this leads to absurd statements.

More importantly perhaps, the use of the term Islamic terrorism has a more pernicious effect. It paints an entire faith as suspect, lets governments off the hook too easily by not forcing them to more precisely define the "enemy," and it endorses the propaganda of the hate-mongers.

It also distorts the true nature of the problem, and thus proposed solutions do not receive the scrutiny they deserve, thereby, giving governments the freedom to conduct war or take punitive action for purposes that have little to do with the real threat.

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