Gordon Brown: Don’t say terrorists are Muslims

Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word “Muslim” in ­connection with the ­terrorism crisis.

The Prime Minister has also instructed his team — including new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith — that the phrase “war on ­terror” is to be dropped.

The shake-up is part of a fresh attempt to improve community relations and avoid offending Muslims, adopting a more “consensual” tone than existed under Tony Blair.

However, the change provoked claims last night that ministers are indulging in yet more political correctness.

The sudden shift in tone emerged in comments by Mr Brown and Ms Smith in the wake of the failed attacks in London and Glasgow.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, Wahhabis, Hamas and Osama bin Laden). It is considered to be a distortion of Islam. Many Islamists engage in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Adherents of Islam are called “Muslims.” The term Ärab”describes an ethnic or cultural identity. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. The terms are not interchangeable.

Mr Brown’s spokesman acknowledged yesterday that ministers had been given specific guidelines to avoid inflammatory language.

“There is clearly a need to strike a consensual tone in relation to all communities across the UK,” the spokesman said. “It is important that the country remains united.”

He confirmed that the phrase “war on terror” — strongly associated with Mr Blair and US President George Bush — has been dropped.

Officials insist that no direct links with Muslim extremists have been publicly confirmed by police investigating the latest attempted terror attacks. Mr Brown himself did not refer to Muslims or Islam once in a BBC TV interview on Sunday.
Ms Smith also avoided any such reference in her statement to MPs yesterday.

She said: “Let us be clear — terrorists are criminals, whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religions. Terrorists attack the values shared by all law-abiding citizens. As a Government, as communities, as individuals, we need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected.”

Tory backbencher Philip Davies said: “I don’t know what purpose is served by this. I don’t think we need pussyfoot around when talking about ­terrorism.”

But former Tory homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer said: “This is quite a smart idea. We know that the vast majority of Muslims are not involved in terrorism and we have to accept there are sensitivities about these matters.”

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2007 at 1:52 PM, Central European Time (CET)