The Term ''''Islamic Fascist'''' Is Accurate, Even If Not Popular
The new president of the Islamic Society of North America admonishes President Bush and the rest of us not to use terms such as Islamic fascists in describing terrorists responsible for killing Americans and plots to do so.
"We don''t understand why it needs to have the Islamic label," Ingrid Mattson said last week. "Terrorism, crime or violence" is, she said, the proper description of the attacks against Americans and others in the West. Yes, but terrorism, crime and violence committed by whom?
In a similar vein, Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, complained a week earlier that use of the term Islamic fascism "conveys that fascism is rooted in or inspired by Islam." He said the faith of Muslims should not "be equated with the evils of terrorism or fascism."
Those sound like valid points. Still, within hours of Mattson''s remarks, Ayman al-Zawahri, the No. 2 leader of al-Qaida, and "Azzam the American," identified as Adam Yehiye Gadahn, appeared in a new video in which Gadahn called on all Americans to convert to Islam. Earlier, two journalists for an American television network were forced to announce on video that they had converted to Islam before they were released by the Palestinian terrorists who had kidnapped them in the Gaza Strip.
Would Mattson and Ahmed have us forget that Osama bin Laden, in declaring war on America in 1998, issued a fatwa declaring it "an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it" to kill "Americans and their allies - civilians and military"?
The 9/11 Commission reported that bin Laden sees himself as "the rallying point and organizer of a new kind of war to destroy America and bring the world to Islam." His rhetoric and actions, the panel said, have won him "thousands of followers and some degree of approval from millions more" in the Muslim world.
The most extreme form of Islam ruled in Afghanistan under the Taliban until disposed by U.S. forces. Iran is governed by mullahs who never hesitate to invoke the Quran in tirades advocating death to their enemies.
At the end of the recent fighting in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader in Iran, said Hezbollah had achieved "a divine victory. It is a victory of Islam." The name Hezbollah means "party of god" and that group is responsible for murdering more Americans than any terrorist organization save al-Qaida.
An extremist Islamist leader in Britain described last year''s lethal bombings of London''s subway and buses as "a punishment from Allah." Muslims have been responsible for terrorist bombings or plots in Spain, Bali, Germany and Denmark, among other places. Suicide bombers routinely leave video testaments of their commitment to Islam.
The list could go on and on. The point is that the terrorists tell us that theirs is a battle on behalf of Islam. We cannot ignore what they say.
In a further amplification of Mattson and Ahmed''s argument, a Chicago area Muslim spokesman, in an informal meeting recently with editors of the Sun-Times, complained that no other groups involved in conflict or controversy are identified by religion. That is manifestly incorrect. Israel is identified regularly as the Jewish state. "Catholic" and "Protestant" were commonly used in describing the two sides in the Ulster troubles. And we are familiar with the power of the Christian right in American politics.
One, of course, can''t help but sympathize with Mattson, Ahmed and millions of American Muslims horrified and repulsed by the atrocities of the terrorists. And it''s also true that a complex of social, political and historic factors and the emotional reactions to them are among the root causes of the campaign of terror besieging the civilized world.
Still, there''s no denying that the cauldron where this witches'' brew is boiling is the Muslim world. And extremist strains of Islam, such as the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia, amplify, exaggerate and exploit these complaints. Radical Muslims are at war with not only with societies in the West but also against India and the Philippines.
American Muslims are worried, as they and we should be, about opinion polls indicating more than a third of Americans are distrustful of them. But denial by American Muslims of the militant Islamic dimension of the terrorist threat, albeit a twisted and perverted dimension, serves no useful purpose, and does no good for the credibility of the Islamic Society or CAIR. Neither did inviting former president Mohammad Khatami of Iran -- a state sponsor of terrorism -- to the Islamic Society''s convention in Rosemont last weekend. In one of his many denunciations of Israel over the years, Khatami said that "if we abide by the Quran, all of us should mobilize to kill." Once again, the evocation of Islam.
The Chicago Sun-Times