The Meaning of Islamic Fascism

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has an op-ed in today’s Projo where he objects to President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascists” to describe fascists who are Islamic (or maybe he denies that fascists who are Islamic can even exist; I can’t quite tell)…

The phrase “Islamic fascists” has drawn the ire of the American Muslim community. We use “Islamic ethics” to mean ethics based on Islamic teachings that guide our behavior. Similarly, Islamic art draws its inspiration from Islamic teachings that discourage certain types of art (immodest imagery or certain life forms). When the president uses “Islamic fascists,” it conveys that fascism is rooted in or inspired by Islam. This is the way the Muslims see it, regardless of what Mr. Bush may claim he really means.
But the term “Islamic Fascism” is no more beyond the pale than terms like “German Fascism” or “Italian Fascism”, terms universally accepted by the historical and political science communities because they meaningfully distinguish the movements they describe from other forms of socio-political organization. More importantly…
  1. No one conflates the acceptance of the terms German Fascism or Italian Fascism with an assumption that there is something intrinsically wrong with Germans or Italians.
  2. And the fact that many Germans and Italians did not approve of the actions of their early-to-mid 20th Century governments does not change the fact that fascist leaders of the period manipulated German and Italian nationalism as part of organizing a violent fascist movement. In the same way, that fact that a majority of Muslims do not approve of terrorism does not change the fact that modern day fascist leaders are manipulating the Islamic religion as part of their organization of a violent fascist movement.
For an antidote to Mr. Ahmed’s article that provides as good an understanding as you will find of what Islamic Fascism is, read Steven Schwartz‘s treatise on Islamofascism from the Daily Standard
Fascism is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law. As such it represents a radical departure from the tradition of ultra-conservatism. The latter aims to preserve established social relations, through enforcement of law and reinforcement of authority. But the fascist organizations of Mussolini and Hitler, in their conquests of power, showed no reluctance to rupture peace and repudiate parliamentary and other institutions; the fascists employed terror against both the existing political structure and society at large…
Islamofascism similarly pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of global society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of peace between states. Al Qaeda has recourse to the former weapon; Hezbollah, in assaulting northern Israel, used the latter. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence.

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17 years ago

The Council on Islamic-American Relations would be far better off if it joined in the condemnation of Islamofascism and concurrently worked to highlight American Muslims who accept democracy and religous tolerance.
Doing so would advance the Council’s cause far more than criticizing Bush for using a term that most reasonable people know is an accurate description.

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