“We see with the new FBI terminology and the new intelligence terminology, they can’t talk about the enemy. They can’t talk about jihad. They can’t talk about Muslim. They can’t talk about Islam.”— Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), speech on the House floor, April 26, 2013
Has the FBI been hamstrung in its investigation of the Boston Marathon bombers because of a “purge” of training materials deemed by the Obama administration to be offensive to various ethnic and religious groups?
That’s a claim that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) keeps raising on the House floor and in media interviews— a point echoed by Sean Hannity on Fox News. (Hannity cites Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as his source.)
Gohmert is a controversial figure who also recently made the unsubstantiated charge that the Obama administration is staffed with “many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence.”
That’s a bizarre assertion, mostly ignored. But his comments on FBI practices have gained wide circulation, so let’s explore the basis of that claim.
13 February 2013
Amsterdam’s city council will stop using the terminology “autochtoon” and “allochtoon” to identify citizens. “Allochtoon” refers to first or second generation migrants, as well as third generation Dutch with at least one grandparent who is an immigrant. In colloquial discourse “allochtoon” refers to those of non-western ethnic heritage and “autochtoon” to autochthnous or ethnic Dutch. The council is eradicating the term on the basis that it promotes a division between “them and us”. With the change, a “foreign Amsterdammer” will now be defined as someone born abroad, or whose parents were born abroad. This is not the first attempt to shift the use of the problematic terminology, which is prolific not only in Amsterdam’s city council but throughout the nation and in popular discourse.
13 August 2010
In future, centres for Islamic Studies are to be set up at German
universities to train Muslim religious scholars. In an interview with
Qantara, Peter Strohschneider, chairman of the German Council of Science
and Humanities, talks about these plans.
He claims that the project would not only be for the “intellectual
self-reflection by the Muslims, not only a vital project for reasons of
integration policy, but also an intellectual, structurally significant
On the question of how to name the new subject area in contrast to the
traditional “Islamwissenschaften” (Studies of Islam), he explains that
“Islamic Studies as a theological subject are connected with a belief in
Islam, while ‘Islamwissenschaften’ are not. We suggested the term
‘Islamic Studies’ even though it has some risks, for example the fact
that in English it is equivalent to what we call in German
‘Islamwissenschaften’, the subject we are trying to distinguish it from.
We deliberately avoided using the word ‘theology’ because it comes from
the Christian tradition, but the problem is that the only terminology
available in the German language has been shaped by Ch
According to some Muslims and Jewish people of faith, the common name of the H1N1 virus, “Swine Flu,” is offensive in its reference to pigs, because the animal is considered unclean to Muslims and Jews. Some Israeli health officials have urged changing the name to “Mexican flu.” In the United States, the Center for Disease Control has recommended identifying the strain by its official and scientific name. Eating pigs and pork products is forbidden in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions.
Chris Seiple of the Christian Science Monitor writes in this piece of ten terms in which we ought to “be very careful about how we use them, and in what context.” The terms, Seiple says, are stemmed from his travels and discussions with Muslims in which such phrases and words are not aiding the building of solid relationships with the Muslim world and community. They are the following: The Clash of Civilizations, Secular, Assimilation, Reformation, Jihadi, Moderate, Interfaith, Freedom, Religious Freedom, and Tolerance.
Seiple acknowledges that such words and phrases will differ and change over the years according to cultural and ethnic context and (mis)perceptions, but argues that earnestly listening to understand each other better is the chief goal.
The time has come for Islam in the West to become Islam of the West, and put the last nine years of madness and suffering in the past, according to the president of the İslamic society of Britain (İSB).
Zahoor Qureshi spoke alongside five other British Muslim representatives at Bahçeşehir University last week, saying their visit is important for sharing ideas, seeking advice and engaging in discussions about the radicalization of Muslims in the West. “We want people like ourselves who live in Britain and people like yourselves who are no doubt European, to play a role in what the EU decides about its future and what Britain decides about its future,” said Aftab Ahmad Malik, a visiting fellow at Birmingham University.
Regarding the criticism that the Muslim faith has received since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Malik said at no point did Muslim councils agree with what happened. “The British government and the Muslim community in Britain have decided that it is better if we can engage and it is better if we can talk,” said Malik.
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A report entitled “Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words” written by unnamed civilian analysts and contractors for the US Central Command has said that words like ‘jihad’ and ‘Islamist’ are needed in discussing 21st century terrorism issues.
The report added that federal agencies which avoid such words are “soft-pedaling” the link between religious extremism and violent acts. The report is quoted as saying: “We must reject the notion that Islam and Arabic stand apart as bodies of knowledge that cannot be critiqued or discussed as elements of understanding our enemies in this conflict.”
The report counters a January 2008 memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which recommended avoiding using such terms as “jihadist,” “Islamic terrorist,” “Islamist,” or “holy war” saying that such terminology would create a negative climate and spawn acts of discrimination and harassment.