Sunday, September 03, 2006

References To 'Islamic Fascism' Slammed

By Rummana Hussain, Staff Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times
September 2, 2006

Islamic Society of North America’s newly elected president, Ingrid Mattson, said Friday she objects to President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascism” when describing the enemy in the global war on terrorism.

Mattson, like other ISNA leaders, expressed empathy for the challenges government officials face in trying to keep the country safe, but she said the “inaccurate and unhelpful” rhetoric by Bush and other Republican lawmakers hurts peaceful, law-abiding Muslims who face growing scrutiny even five years after 9/11.

“This is a term that had very bad resonance in the Muslim majority world and makes us feel uncomfortable, so we’re hoping there can be some adjustment to this language,” Mattson said at a news conference kicking off ISNA’s fourday annual convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Mattson said any harmful act carried out in the name of religion should simply be called “terrorism, crime or violence.”

“We don’t understand why it needs to have the Islamic label. The products that are coming from the Muslim world are not being called Islamic products or Islamic oil. . . . Of course, people do misuse and use Islamic concepts and terms to justify their violence, but I think when we bestow that term upon them, we only make the situation worse and somehow give validity to their claims, which we need to deny and reject.”

Group urged to bridge gap

Earlier this month, Bush said the uncovered British terror plot to blow up planes flying to the United States is further proof “that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) also called former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami “one of the chief propagandists of the Islamic fascist regime” when criticizing the Bush administration’s decision to give the Iranian a visa.

Khatami is scheduled to speak to ISNA attendees tonight.

“We felt that it was a natural extension of our dialogue and learning to invite him here so that we could hear from him and perhaps also show him how the American Muslim community has dealt with some of the issues of religious freedom and tolerance and perhaps he can carry some of that message back,” Mattson said.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England didn’t mention Khatami when he addressed hundreds of Muslims at ISNA’s inaugural session later Friday.

Instead, he urged the group to use its influence to help bridge the cultural gap between the United States and the Muslim world overseas.

“America wants you to be more involved,” England said. “Reaching out to people around the world, understanding their concerns, offering partnership and support and extending a promise of freedom is a noble mission.”

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