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What's in a Name?
by Cliff May
Three Muslim reformers have written a piece, "Please call us Islamic," that I think deserves attention. Hayri Abaza, who is with my Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Soner Çağaptay and Kayvan Chinichian, both with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argue that too many people and publications are using the terms "Islamic and Islamist interchangeably, not realizing that Islam is a religion and Islamism is an ideology. . . . In the name of political sanity, we ask you, please call us Islamic because Islamism is an ideology we do not share." They add that Islamism is "a modern anti-Western political ideology rooted in Islam."
I agree. One point on which I differ with the authors: I'm not convinced that most of those using the terms interchangeably are "confused," and are doing so "unwittingly."
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