By ANDREW E. HARROD, SAM NUNBERG:
As reported by U.S. News & World Report on April 4, 2013, the Associated Press (AP) has revised its definition of “Islamist” in the latest edition of the AP stylebook after the AP announced that it would likewise no longer approve of “illegal immigrant.” This move, advocated precisely by a troubling Muslim group justifiably called Islamist in the past, shows once again how difficult it is for modern free societies even to identify their Islamist foes in the face of politically correct pressures.
Added to the AP stylebook in 2012, Islamist initially had the following entry: “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.” The updated entry reads:
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.
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), praised “this revision” as a “step in the right direction” that “will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims.” Hooper considered the “key issue with the term ‘Islamist’” to be “not its continued use,” but rather “its use almost exclusively as an ill-defined pejorative.”
Hooper had previously recommended on January 3, 2013, that the media “[d]rop the term ‘Islamist,’” which had “become shorthand for ‘Muslims we don’t like.’” This term’s “almost exclusively pejorative context” has an “even more negative slant” when “often coupled with the term ‘extremist.’” By analogy, Hooper rejected any hypothetical media references to the “‘Judaist government of Israel,’ the ‘Christianist leader Rick Santorum’ or ‘Hinduist Indian politician Narendra Modi’” when describing “those who would similarly seek governments ‘in accord with the laws’ of their respective faiths.”
“Many Muslims,” Hooper stated, who wish to serve the public good are influenced by the principles of their faith. Islam teaches Muslims to work for the welfare of humanity and to be honest and just. If this inspiration came from the Bible, such a person might well be called a Good Samaritan. But when the source is the Quran, the person is an “Islamist.”
The “frequent linkage of the term ‘Islamist’” to various human rights violations was “strongly promoted by Islamophobic groups.” This appeared to Hooper as attempts “to launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims, without the public censure that would normally accompany such bigoted attacks on any other faith.” “Islam-bashers,” Hooper elaborated, “routinely use the term to disingenuously claim they only hate ‘political’ Islam, not the faith itself,” yet “fail to explain how a practicing Muslim can be active in the political arena without attracting the label ‘Islamist.’”
If retained at all by “media professionals,” Hooper recommended that “Islamist” appear only when a “group applies the term to itself,” analogous to the AP’s treatment of “fundamentalist.” Absent such elimination or modification, “Islamist” entailed a “political and religious value judgment” that “is hardly fair or balanced.”
Hooper might well reject the “Islamist” label, for this term has in the past denounced CAIR in, for example, the Investigative Report on Terrorism (IPT)’s exhaustive 118-page report on CAIR. IPT documents how CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful 2008 prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development for financing Hamas terrorists, has its origins in American entities of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Hamas. Accordingly, CAIR has an extensive history of apologizing for militant jihad and repressive sharia practices as well as CAIR functionary convictions for supporting Islamic terrorism. Hooper himself has in the past stated that he would like to see the United States government become “Islamic” and implement sharia.
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Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is admitted to the Virginia State Bar. He has published various pieces concerning an Islamic supremacist agenda at the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project, American Thinker, and Faith Freedom International.