Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Using the word "Islamist"

On Friday, November 13, 2015, during the terrorism in Paris I wrote,

CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THOSE KILLED BY ISLAMIST TERRORISTS IN PARIS ON 11-13-15  May all beings be free of hatred, harming and pain.

There was a comment that I should not use the word Islamist to describe the terrorist.

As I see it, Islamists are those, who in the name of Islam, are intolerant of and violent towards those that disagree with their beliefs and worldview, especially Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims, as well as "heretical Muslims" or other Muslims who "get in their way." Islamists seek to impose their worldview, rules and domination on others. Islamists are a minority of all Muslims, estimated at circa 10 - 20% worldwide depending upon which sources you trust. And Islamists are, to the best of my knowledge, an accurate description of and a shorthand for ISIS terrorists.

In response to a form of the above statement, I have heard that, "attempting to make fine distinctions between degrees of Islamism is a fool's errand. The majority of Muslims everywhere support, or at best are marginally indifferent to, these atrocities," except as it might effect them.

Subsequently, I was sent the following opinion piece which, drawing on the author's experience in Molenbeek, Belgium, the home of some of those involved in the Paris terrorism, addresses this use of the word Islamist. Below is the author's take on the underlying conditions which may make it difficult for some to use the word:

"We live in the age of the sanctified tantrum—the political and religious furies we dare not name or shame, much less confront....

And then there is the tantrum of Islam, another eruption of rage that feeds off our astonishing willingness to indulge it.

Before Friday’s carnage in the City of Light, the world was treated to the hideous spectacle of Palestinians knifing Jews in Israel. The supposed motive of these stabbings was a rumor among Palestinians—fanned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—that the Israeli government intended to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

This was a story the Israeli government adamantly denied and every serious person knew was false. Yet no senior Western leader dared call out Mr. Abbas to correct the record. Palestinian tantrums are sanctified tantrums. The violence they breed might be condemned, but the narrative on which they rest has the status of holy writ. It is no more to be questioned than the Quran is to be burned....

... at the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and the two noncontenders for the Democratic presidential nomination each refused to use the term “radical Islam” in referring to the ideological force behind the Paris killings. The furthest Mrs. Clinton would go to naming the enemy was to say “you can talk about Islamists who also are clearly jihadists.”

Apparently, however, you cannot mention Islamists who are not yet “clearly jihadists,” lest some other invisible line be transgressed. To do so might set off another tantrum among people who tend toward violence whenever they are accused of violent tendencies.

Nowhere are Islamist tantrums so richly indulged as in Europe..."

For the further explorations of the article see:


How do we reconcile these various aspects of these present life circumstances - fear, appropriate concerns for safety, combating harm, violence and the need to protect the public safety?

What is our responsibility as a citizen and political actor?

How do we respect varied perspectives and traditions?

What is skillful and unskillful?

What is compassionate?