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American Muslim

President Bush: A political opportunist or ……

By Khalid Saeed

Just hours after Tony Blair announced the arrest of two-dozen Britons on charges that they were planning to blow up planes using liquid explosives, President Bush remarked: “This nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

That same afternoon, Pervez Ahmed, who is chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy group, released an open letter to the president, a letter that excoriated Bush for using language that “contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community.” He wrote, “The use of ill-defined hot-button terms such as ‘Islamic fascists’ harms our nation’s image and interests worldwide.” he wrote.

In an article “From crusade to Islamic fascism in his online Magazine “American Muslim Perspective”
Mr. Abdus Sattar Ghazali writes:

“As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks and the "war on terror," American Muslim community is alarmed and dismayed at President George Bush’s remarks that that “this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.” Mr. Ghazali further writes,” Adding insult to the injury, the White House Press Secretary Tony Snow says the president will continue to use the phrase. In an e-mail interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Snow said Bush has gradually shifted from general rhetoric about a war on terrorism to the more specific "war with Islamic fascists." With the new description, Bush "tries to identify the ideology that motivates many organized terrorist groups," Snow said.

This is a major shift in public or visible attitude and rhetoric of President Bush.

A few days after the 9/11 incident, President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, the city's largest Islamic center. There he rightfully asked the public to view Arabs and Muslims living in the United States as American patriots, saying that intimidation and harassment of them "will not stand in America." And while he repeated his determination to hunt down and punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks, he added, "the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam." Islam is tolerant of other faiths. Like America, Islam has a history of respecting other religions.

The arrests in Britain have not helped President Bush's popularity so far, the CBS poll finds his job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago. “No Bounce from Terror News” reports CBS News.

It seems the things are not going well anywhere these days for the President. His kiss on the cheek of congressman Lieberman was fatal for the congressman, and now President Bush isn't exactly eager to lend his support to the Republican nominee in Connecticut's tumultuous Senate race. "There are some peculiar characteristics going on in the Republican Party with the Republican candidate,” said Tony Snow adding “And why don't you wait and see what happens?”

There is no indication that the re-emergence of terrorism as a major issue has helped President Bush's popularity. His job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago. Even the president's rating for handling terrorism – his strongest suit – remains unchanged at 51 percent.

The recent terrorism threat has also had little effect on views of the two parties. Democrats, have a slight advantage on making the right decisions about the war in Iraq. Overall, Americans have a more negative view of how the war on terrorism is going. Just 35 percent say the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terrorism – the lowest number since January 2003 and down eight points since June. One in five think the terrorists are winning, the highest number in nearly four years.

Under the current political situation while the November elections are just around the corner President Bush and his handlers seems to be desperate to come up with a gimmick to save them from loosing the November elections. The current rhetoric against Islam seems to be the answer they have come up with to rally around their troops by playing with people fears and bringing out biases by insisting on this “Islamophobic” racist terminology.

The political opportunism is not new in these corridors of power. “Just two days after Sept.11, I learned from the Congressional staffers that Republicans on the Capital Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. I wrote about the subject the next day, warning that “politicians who warp themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots.” Writes Paul Krugman in his The New York Times column. “Hard-core conservatives exploiting our fears,” he said, adding: “The Bush administration and its allies in congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited.”

Now we learn that terrorism experts have known about the threat of liquid explosives for years, but the Bush administration did nothing about that until now and tried to divert funds from the program that might have helped protect us. As the British terror plot was unfolding, reports the Associated Press, “the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6millions that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosive detection tech.”

”As for Islamo-fascism, Islam has no central authority - it does not meet the definition of fascism. Even when the community of Muslims (the ummah) had a central authority (The Caliphate), it was neither totalitarian nor fascist.” Lewis H.Lapham, editor of the American monthly Harper's Magazine, writes in the October 2005 issue,”… it is the U.S. that has become a fascist state,” he said.

For anyone with sufficient knowledge of Islam know that the terms, Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism, Islamo-fascism, etc. are oxymoron. Muslims, as the Quran teaches (2:143), are "a community of the middle way." While some Muslims may properly be addressed as terrorists, etc., to define them as "Islamic" is an oxymoron. This terminology is completely racist--nobody ever called Mussolini a "Catholic fascist". After his current remarks I am still trying to figure out if President Bush is merely a political opportunist or he is actually a hateful racist?

Mr. KHALID SAEED is national President of the American Muslim Voice.

August 16, 2006