A coalition of American Muslim groups is demanding that Sen. John McCain stop using the adjective “Islamic” to describe terrorists and extremist enemies of the United States.
Muneer Fareed, who heads the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told The Washington Times that his group is beginning a campaign to persuade Mr. McCain to rephrase his descriptions of the enemy.
“We’ve tried to contact his office, contact his spokesperson to have them rethink word usage that is more acceptable to the Muslim community,” Mr. Fareed said. “If it’s not our intent to paint everyone with the same brush, then certainly we should think seriously about just characterizing them as criminals, because that is what they are.”
An aide to Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who is counting on his pro-Iraq war stance to attract conservative voters, said the senator from Arizona will not drop the word.
Steve Schmidt, a former Bush White House aide who is now a McCain media strategist, told The Times that the use of the word is appropriate and that the candidate will continue to define the enemy that way.
“Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda represent a perverted strain of Islam at odds with the great many peaceful Muslims who practice their great faith peacefully,” Mr. Schmidt said. “But the reality is, the hateful ideology which underpins bin Ladenism is properly described as radical Islamic extremism. Senator McCain refers to it that way because that is what it is.”
Mr. McCain often uses the term “Islamic” to describe terrorist enemies. The two remaining Democrats in the presidential field, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, generally shun such word usage.