Shortly pafter September 11 attacks that hit the United States in 2001, the U.S. President George W Bush angered the Muslims in America and all over the world by unwise remarks he made in which he characterised America’s upcoming struggle against terrorism as a "Crusade."
Bush sparked tensions in Middle East and alienated Muslims, even though he quickly backed off from his remarks. And many Arabs raised fears that the U.S. was preparing for a war to pit Western Christian nations against Muslim countries.
Today, after five years have passed since he made his unwise statement, Bush repeated the same mistake.
Last Thursday, following the outbreak of news about the terror plot uncovered by the British authorities to blow up at least 10 U.S.-bound planes, the American President said that the plot was "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom to hurt our nation".
Terms like "Islamic fascists", which Bush used this week both for Hezbollah and the suspected "terrorists", has hurt and angered Muslims, U.S. Muslim leaders said.
"It offends the vast majority of moderate Muslims," Ahmed Younis, the national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told the BBC.
"The use of the term casts a shadow upon Islam and bolsters the argument that there is a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West," Mr. Younis said, denouncing linking violence to the Islamic faith.
"There is nothing Islamic about their fascism. The Prophet [Muhammad] (PBUH) and the Qur’an clearly articulate that this type of activity is outside of bounds for Muslims."
Mr. Younis of MPAC further stated that Bush’s use of the term was "a mistake", adding that the claim that "there is a school of thought called Islamic fascism is a misnomer".
"There is no sense in which Jihadists embrace fascist ideology as it was developed by Mussolini or anyone else who was associated with the term," Security expert Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.
"This is an epithet, a way of arousing strong emotion and tarnishing one’s opponent, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the content of their beliefs.
Also a Muslim scholar on Friday attacked Bush for his remarks linking fascism to Islam.
The imam of Al Adliya Mosque in Manama, capital of Bahrain, slammed the American President for his unwise choice of words, saying that his remarks came as another proof that the United States was considering Islam and Muslims as its no. 1 enemy, according to Gulf News.
"We see that the Bush administration is getting bolder and bolder in its characterisation of Islam as the enemy.
"Earlier, it used to refer to terrorism and extremism within Islam to explain its anti-Islamic attitude.
"Now, they are talking about fascism. Tomorrow, the administration, inexorably unable to rein in its anti-Islam drive, will clearly spell out its intentions against the religion," the imam told worshippers on Friday.
Also commenting on the American President’s remarks, Liberal columnist Saeed Al Hamad yesterday said that using the word "fascism" was an overpoliticisation of current developments that would lead to furore in the Middle East and Arab streets.
"I am afraid that the ill-advised term would inflame a highly volatile situation and would help extremists to capitalise on it in their relentless drive to depict the West as seeking to mock and subdue Muslims," Al Hamad said.
Bush used the term on at least two separate occasions in one week.
In a press conference from his ranch in Texas, Bush stated on Monday that terrorists "try to spread their Jihadist message - a message I call ... Islamic radicalism, Islamic fascism".
A few minutes later he said "Islamo-fascism" was an "ideology that is real and profound".
On Thursday, following announcement by the British authorities that two dozen people suspected of plotting to blow up planes traveling to the U.S. had been arrested, Bush repeated the same mistake, saying that "Islamic fascists... will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom".
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), issued a complaint.
CAIR chairman Parvez Ahmed condemned the "use of ill-defined hot-button terms" that "feeds the perception that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam".
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