Politics & Media
May 05, 2008, 11:06AM


When we speak about the relationship between religion and terrorism we have to watch our words. This writer observes that constant conservative associations of Islam with violence undercuts our ability to win hearts and minds in the Middle East.

"Since President Bush made his speech after 9/11, the evidence suggests that we have actually blurred the distinction between Islam and terrorism. Popular books like "The Truth About Muhammad: Founder Of The World's Most Intolerant Religion" and "Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah" offer the most impoverished and belligerent interpretations of the religion -- but still sell. And when Islam is cited in video clips by Osama bin Laden and other violent aggressors, these claims are then used by commentators like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter as authoritative accounts of the Qur'an.

Because of these books and commentaries, when Americans hear the word "Islam" it is usually followed by hyphenated words like violence, terror and extremism. This has successfully brought together our conception of Muslims with militancy and has effectively split off similarities between Muslims and the rest of the democratic world. If our most influential teachers of Islam are either extremists who hate the West, or Westerners who are not attentive to President Bush's distinction, how can we possibly reach a lasting peace?



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