CAIR Claims Victory Over AP Stylebook’s Restrictions on Word 'Islamist'

By Elizabeth Harrington | April 5, 2013 | 1:51pm EDT

Associated Press. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) praised the Associated Press (AP) for revising its stylebook to forbid the use of the word “Islamist,” if it is used to describe Islamic militants or extremists.

In a press release on Friday, CAIR said revising the term is a "step in the right direction,” and that they helped influence the AP’s decision.

“Late last year, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) approached AP about modifying the reference, which had been added to its influential Stylebook,” the release said.

“That entry read: ‘Islamist -- Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.’”

“CAIR suggested that AP change its Stylebook to incorporate language similar to that used in the reference to ‘fundamentalist,’ which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself,” they said.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director of CAIR. (Photo: CAIR)

CAIR also encouraged the media to drop the term.  "Unfortunately, the term 'Islamist' has become shorthand for 'Muslims we don't like,'” said CAIR.  “It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term 'extremist,' giving it an even more negative slant."

The group’s national communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, also wrote a commentary earlier this year, calling on AP to drop the term.

“No journalist would think of referring to the ‘Judaist government of Israel,’ the ‘Christianist leader Rick Santorum’ or ‘Hinduist Indian politician Narendra Modi,’ while use of ‘Islamist’ has become ubiquitous,” Hooper wrote.  “It might be an interesting exercise to hold a contest, the winner of which would be the first to find a positive mainstream media reference to ‘Islamist.’"

“By not dropping or modifying use of the term, the media are making a political and religious value judgment each time it is used,” he said.

Following their decision earlier this week to ban the use of the term “illegal immigrant,” the AP announced on Thursday that it had revised its definition for “Islamist.”

When the AP added Islamist to its Stylebook in 2012 its definition read: “Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.”

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