The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), identified by the U.S. government as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, is suggesting a New Year’s resolution for the media: Stop using the term “Islamist.”
CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who expressed his desire for “the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future” in 1993 and, again, in 2003, writes that the media shouldn’t say “Islamist” anymore because it is “currently used in almost exclusively pejorative context.”
Hooper argues that being an Islamist isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He quotes from the Associated Press Stylebook that describes an Islamist as a “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.”
This, he says, is no different than a Christian politician being influenced by Biblical values. But Christian politicians are influenced by the Bible as a moral influence. There’s no authoritative Christian doctrine on how a “Christian State” should be run. As the definition itself says, Islamists view their religion as a system of governmental “laws” and a “political model.”
Hooper says that Muslims are unfairly called Islamists when there are political disagreements — sort of like the word “Islamophobe,” which he hypocritically uses in the very same sentence.
The attempt to eliminate the word “Islamist” from the media’s vocabulary is a reflection of what was said during a secret U.S. Muslim Brotherhood meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 that the FBI wiretapped. Two officials that founded CAIR the following year were present.
“Forming the public opinion or coming up with a policy to influence …the way the Americans deal with the Islamists, for instance. I believe that should be the goals of this stage,” said Hamas operative Abdel Haleem al-Ashqar.
The meeting participants, who repeatedly referred to themselves as Islamists, understood that friendly media coverage was essential to their goal of influencing public opinion and policy towards them. As pointed out by the Investigative Project, future CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad said at that meeting:
“The fourth goal is becoming open to the media in the U.S. and the Western society to ease the intensity of the campaign and to explain the legality of the opposition led by the Islamists,” he said.
The government determined from these transcripts that deception was an integral part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s procedure. In a 2007 court filing, federal prosecutors state: “From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists …the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists.”
Hooper writes that “the label [Islamist] should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.” So, if an Islamist decides it’s inconvenient to include that on his resume, you better not call him one.
Nonetheless, the FBI wiretaps shows CAIR’s founders do describe themselves as Islamists — but only in private. In places where the term is less toxic, it is used regularly. A search of the word “Islamist” on the Muslim Brotherhood website, IkhwanWeb.com, yields 3,046 results.
CAIR doesn’t want the term “Islamist” used anymore because it is not helpful to be associated with an unpopular word. This campaign to swap out the word “Islamist” is a modern-day application of what the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood has always done: Switch to a new name when the old one becomes counterproductive.
The 1993 meeting participants discussed the need for a new “neutral” organization because “it is known who we are.” They needed a group with a clean track record and greater credibility. Two of those present formed CAIR the next year. The Muslim American Society was founded in 2003 because the Muslim Brotherhood needed a new name, as detailed by the Chicago Tribune in 2004. When a title or name becomes problematic, the Islamists try to run away from it.
Today, the term “Islamist” is viewed negatively. Therefore, being Islamists, CAIR argues that the term means nothing more than politically-active Muslims. Since it can’t change the term’s negative perception, CAIR wants it gone.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.