Letter to President George W. Bush on his use of terms such as "Islamic Fascists"

August 11, 2006

Dear Mr. President:

This morning we woke up to the news of a thwarted terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using chemicals smuggled in carry-on luggage. We thank God and commend the professionalism of law enforcement authorities.

American Muslims have consistently condemned all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by individuals, groups or states. We repudiate anyone or any group that plans or carries out a terrorist act. The American Muslim community remains dedicated to the protection of our nation’s security.

In these trying times it is important for our nation stands united. Muslims form an important part of the fabric of America. As our President, we have the right to expect that you will do everything within your power to protect your fellow American Muslims. We are law-abiding citizens who should not be targeted or singled out because of their faith or national origin.

Unfortunately and regrettably your statement this morning, “this nation is at war with Islamic fascists” has contributed to the creation of fear and backlash against the American-Muslim community. Just today Gallup released a poll showing anti-Muslim sentiments to be common among Americans and four out of ten feeling “prejudiced” against Muslims.

You have on many occasions said Islam is a religion of peace. Now you have equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism. What signal does this send to our fellow Americans and to the Muslims around the world with whom we should be building bridges of understanding? Is it fair to link the peaceful faith of Islam to the terrorism of a few Muslims who misguidedly commit terror in the name of Islam? Just as we do not equate the faith of Christianity to the terrorism of abortion clinic bombers like Eric Rudolph we ask the same courtesy be reciprocated to us.

Earlier this year on the eve of your State of the Union Address, I wrote to you offering suggestions that could serve to strengthen America's image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world.

Hot-button terms such as “Islamo-fascism,” “militant jihadism,” “Islamic radicalism,” or “totalitarian Islamic empire,” are ill-defined leaving their meanings to ambiguous in the minds of listeners. The European Union is recommending the use of "non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalization." This morning, to their credit, British authorities and media refrained from connecting this contemplated act of terror with the faith of their alleged perpetrators.

In a one of a kind study, Robert Pape's in his book "Dying to Win" uses over two decades of data to show the paucity of connection between suicide terrorism and any of the world religions. Occupation is the primary motivator and religion, at best, is an "aggravating" factor.

American Muslims stand ready to serve as a bridge of understanding to the Islamic world. We can best fulfill that role by offering advice that can help prevent misperceptions and misunderstandings between different nations and cultures. We need our President to help strengthen our in favor of moderation and condemning extremism among Muslims.


Parvez Ahmed

Chairman of the Board

Council on American-Islamic Relations