Late last year, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) approached AP about modifying the reference, which had been added to its influential Stylebook. That entry read: "Islamist -- 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."
CAIR suggested that AP change its Stylebook to incorporate language similar to that used in the reference to "fundamentalist," which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.
Earlier this year, CAIR urged media outlets to drop the term because, "Unfortunately, the term 'Islamist' has become shorthand for 'Muslims we don't like.' It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term 'extremist,' giving it an even more negative slant."
ISLAM-OPED: Media Urged to Drop Term 'Islamist' in New Year
In an update emailed yesterday to online Stylebook subscribers, AP modified the "Islamist" reference to read:
"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."
"We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "The key issue with the term 'Islamist' is not its continued use; the issue is its use almost exclusively as an ill-defined pejorative."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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