Monday, June 27, 2016
Language Matters: Making Space for Moderate Muslims
"Radical Islam" Is the Correct Label - Yehuda Bauer
President Obama has explained why he doesn't like using the term "radical Islam" when talking about terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims in various countries. His argument was well-reasoned, but I don't agree with it. His principal argument is that using the label "radical Islam" will be interpreted as an attack on Islam per se, and will help extremists brand the U.S. as the enemy of 1.3 billion Muslim believers.
In my humble opinion, the truth is the diametric opposite. When an act of terror that's perpetrated for ideological reasons is termed simply "terror," but it's clear to everyone that it was perpetrated by a Muslim due to an extremist religious ideology, it paints all Muslims as the guilty parties. But if you say it was perpetrated by people who identify with radical Islam, you're effectively saying there's also a different kind of Islam, one that isn't radical in its ideas and actions and doesn't send murderers out to commit mass terror attacks.
Using the term "radical Islam" actually allows nonradical or antiradical Muslims - and they are the majority - to come out against such murderous acts both ideologically and practically. And in fact many do so.
The writer is professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at Hebrew University.