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On the Term “Islamic Fascist”

The designation of Hezbollah and other jihadists as “Islamic fascists” has ruffled some feathers. The mixture of a religious adjective and a political substantive apparently goes too far for the defenders of a wall of separation between Church and State. Unfortunately (or not?) the life-world in which real experience transpires does not necessarily correspond to the strictures of political correctness. Existence precedes essence, sometimes religion does enter politics, and sometimes Muslims are fascists. To be sure, not always, nor even frequently: there are Islamic liberals, Islamic reformers, Islamic traditionalists, Islamic Communists, and . . . Islamic fascists, for example, Hezbollah, or the various terrorist gangs that planned murdering civilians in airplanes. The war against them is an anti-fascist war, as I wrote last week.

In a similar spirit, the former editor-in-chief of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and current director of Al-Arabiya TV, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, endorsed President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascists” with regard to those who attempted to carry out the plot against air travel. His article “They Are Fascists” appeared in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on August 14 and included passages such as the following:

“Many of us are only concerned with reputation and image, our image in the media, and the reputation of the Muslims in the world, but they do not care about reforming the original source, their children.

“When U.S. President George W. Bush described those who plotted to kill thousands of passengers in ten airliners as Muslim fascists, protests from a number of Islamic societies in the West and the East were voiced against this description.

“What is wrong with using a bad adjective to describe a terrorist as long as he is willing to personally call himself an Islamist; declares his stance, schemes, and aims; while his supporters publicly call for killing of those whom they consider infidels, or disagree with them religiously or politically?

“The strange thing is that the protesting groups, which held a press conference, would have done better to have held it to denounce the deeds of those affiliated to Islam, who harmed all Muslims and Islam.

“Bush did not say that the Muslims were fascists; he said that the Muslim fascists were the problem, i.e., he distinguished between an extremist group and the general innocent peaceful Muslims. Yes, fascism is a word that has bad connotations, and is used here to approximate the meaning to the listeners. The Westerners know that fascism is an extremist nationalist movement, which emerged from the European society, and was responsible for destructive wars caused by its premises, which are based on discrimination, racism and hatred. This approximation is correct when you apply it to the literature of the Islamic extremists. The same as the Europeans fought fascism and the fascists by word and by gunpowder, the world will fight the extremist Islamists. This is what the good Muslims, who are at the forefront of those hunting down Al-Qaeda, do; the same as the Muslim who exposed the latest conspiracy to hijack the airliners, when he hastened to inform the security authorities when he suspected what was happening in the neighborhood.

“What is more important than preoccupation with preserving the image is to rectify the situation, and to confront the extremists among us. The majority of the Westerners did not know anything about Islam and Muslims until bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, Muhammad Atta, and the culprits of the London explosions called themselves Islamists, and started to use the Koran and the Islamic historical nomenclatures. You cannot call the Red Brigades Movement anything other than what they call themselves, and there is no escape from calling them Italian communists; the same applies to the National Front in Britain, which is described as a Nazi and fascist movement.

“In the end, describing rotten apples as rotten does not make the people hate eating good apples. The same applies to the Muslims; there are one billion Muslims in the world, and the world has no option other than dealing with them, and hunting down the evil minority among them. We have wasted a long time since the seventies in being preoccupied with protesting against nomenclatures and images. This is despite the fact that these people hijack civilian airliners, kill people in restaurants, and justify their actions by using pan-Arab or Islamic descriptions. To describe a Muslim as terrorist is natural if he is a terrorist, the same as you do with a Colombian drug smuggler, an Italian mafioso, a Russian butcher, a British Nazi, or a U.S. right-wing extremist.”

(Source: The Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch Series – No. 1248, August 15, 2006. Link.)

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