The Bush administration advises officials to avoid the use of certain words when describing terrorism, saying the terms are inappropriate and counter-productive. But four members of the Michigan congressional delegation want to ban federal funds for initiatives that prohibit the use of the words, like "jihadist" and "Islamist."
Muslims have long considered the words slurs. The American and British governments now say the words unintentionally honor terrorists while marginalizing moderate Muslims, who believe that Islam provides no rationale for extremism, let alone terrorism.
Regardless, U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, offered an amendment last week to the 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act that would ban financing for any restriction on such words. Reps. Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, and Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, also voted for the amendment.
"None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this act may be used to prohibit or discourage the use of the words or phrases 'jihadist,' 'jihad,' 'Islamo-fascism,' 'caliphate,' 'Islamist' or 'Islamic terrorist' by or within the intelligence community or the Federal Government," the amendment reads. It was approved by a 249-180 vote in the House. The Senate is working on its own authorization bill, and no such amendment has been offered, to date.
"I am sympathetic to the argument that if used inappropriately, the words can be counterproductive, but I find that the people who are criticizing this are very short on alternatives," Hoekstra said. "So how do they want us to describe al-Qaida and what they are involved with?"
Muslim leaders said that even the Bush administration, which they blame for critical errors in the war on terrorism, now realizes the terms are ill-advised.
"We believe that Rep. Hoekstra's misguided decision reinforces the positions of extremists and may unintentionally legitimize al-Qaida and other anti-American forces," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan. "CAIR supports using terminology such as 'criminals,' 'murderers' or 'terrorists' that helps isolate extremists and remove the false cloak of religiosity they use to justify their barbaric actions." (MORE)