The AP Stylebook, the authority on usage style for most U.S. newspapers and TV networks, defines "Islamists," perhaps the most contentious word today, as Muslims who view the Koran as a "political model." These Muslims range from "mainstream politicians" to "militants known as jihadi."
Islamist in this political context is thus distinctive from Muslim, a religious term referring to followers of Islam.
In the very political world of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the term Islamist is considered the province of "Islam-bashers" who hate Islam, but don't want to be too blatant. Steve Emerson's respected Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) describes Washington-based CAIR as "the nation's most visible Islamist group." So it's obvious why CAIR is recoiling over its image and has gone so far as to try to insert "Islamophobia" in conversational English. IPT asserts that CAIR believes popular use of that term would provide an out for attacks on Muslims who have hijacked their religion for political or even terrorist gain.
Clearly, the politics of Islamists have no place in the religious sphere of Muslims.
Says Emerson in a January online post:
"Plenty of practicing Muslims work bravely in opposition to Islamist ideology." He cites Great Britain's Quilliam Foundation — "started
by Muslims who walked away from radical Islamist thought and now counter the arguments Islamists offer." The Foundation contends Muslims must embrace "a more self-critical approach."
Washington-based IPT strives to distinguish between the faith of Islam as practiced by individual Muslims and its application as the foundation for political action and law. Certainly, well intentioned Muslims must stay vigilant against indoctrinating mosques. It's hard to fathom why CAIR has branded Muslims who separate church from state "a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia" — other than CAIR believes such separation is a threat to its agenda.
CAIR itself may not invoke "Islamist" openly. But as IPT reveals, its co-founders used the term to describe their organization's "voice" as far back as 1993. That's when CAIR met with Hamas supporters in Philadelphia to discuss how to derail the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Hamas isn't the only Palestinian terrorist organization to call itself "Islamist." So has Islamic Jihad.
And according to IPT, "CAIR officials also have supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even as it rammed through a constitution that epitomizes Islamist aspirations and makes religious law the law of the land. The Brotherhood has no problem calling itself Islamist."
In its twisted logic, CAIR argues it's OK for the Brotherhood or a Muslim group to call itself Islamist because they understand it to mean something positive and progressive, not something "almost exclusively pejorative."
In sharp contrast, the IPT take is astute: "CAIR's background — the FBI cut off contact with the group in 2008 over questions
about 'whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas' — should be taken into consideration
by anyone entertaining CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper's request to serve as language cop."