The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is refusing to identify the “influential Muslim Americans” and “leading U.S.-based scholars and commentators on Islam” who met with Secretary Michael Chertoff in helping shape a softer approach to government lexicon about terrorists and their ideological motivations.
“Our policy is we don’t comment on the Secretary’s private schedule,” spokeswoman Amy Kudwa told the IPT. Nor would she identify any of the participants’ organizational affiliation.
DHS and the State Department’s Counterterrorism Communications Center each issued reports urging government employees to avoid words like “jihad,” “mujahedeen” or any reference to Islam or Muslims, especially in relation to Al Qaeda. The Investigative Project on Terrorism is making the documents available for the first time here and here.
As we reported last week, the memos say a change in language from the U.S. government is needed to win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims and avoid glamorizing terrorists motivated by religious ideology. “Moderate” is also frowned upon in the memos, though, with “mainstream” or “traditional” suggested as replacements.
Among the recommendations not reported previously:
- “The experts we consulted debated the word ‘liberty,’ but rejected it because many around the world would discount the term as a buzzword for American hegemony.”
- “The fact is that Islam and secular democracy are fully compatible – in fact, they can make each other stronger. Senior officials should emphasize that fact.”
- The USG [U.S. government] should draw the conflict lines not between Islam and the West, but between a dangerous, cult-like network of terrorists and everyone who is in support of global security and progress.
So America, after serving for more than two centuries the sanctuary for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, is being asked to minimize liberty against fanatics bent on a global religious state. The memo doesn’t offer examples to show where Islam and secular democracy have reinforced each other, or explain how Shariah law, the imposition of religion into state affairs, is “fully compatible” with secular democracy.
It is no surprise, however, to see the changes praised by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
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