The Corner

I Don’t Like the Term ‘Radical Islam’ — Here’s Why

For years I’ve gone back and forth on the right term to describe jihadists. I’ve called them Islamofascists, Islamic supremacists, and Islamists, and I’ve used the term “radical Islam” to describe their faith. But, ultimately, I don’t think the term is quite accurate for a simple reason — jihadist Islam is entirely mainstream not just within Islamic history but within multiple Islamic-dominated nations and regions. 

I’ve written about this extensively before, but when majorities in many countries support the death penalty for leaving Islam or supported Osama bin Laden, then it’s hard to describe their views as particularly “radical.” Sure, they’re radical by our standards, but not within their own framework or within their own regions. In many Islamic countries, the true radical will be the person who rejects Sharia law or rejects violent jihad as a viable path for Muslim citizens.

So I describe our enemies as jihadists, and I hope and pray that the larger Muslim world will rally against them so decisively that they truly do become “radical.” Regardless, America still has the same mission — defend our people and way of life from vicious enemies, no matter how mainstream they may be.

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