“There have been regular attacks to demonise Islam for many years, but until recent weeks, it has been expressed either in the form of gutter language by bigots, racists and extremist elements or voiced more discretely and subtly by more presentable sectors of society. Whenever political or religious leaders wanted to revile Islam they often have often used phrases like Islamic terrorists, Islamic extremists, Islamic radicals, etc. They often add such anti-Islamic provisos to say that though Islam does not teach and support terrorism, phrases like terrorists are using a ‘twisted form of Islam’ (Prime Minister, Tony Blair, after July 7 terrorist atrocities) or that terrorists subscribe to ‘a branch of Islam that condones violence’ (The Times, September 30, 2001) or ‘Muslims have to look at why their religion breeds so many violent militant strains’ (The Guardian, October 6, 2001) are deemed acceptable.
“However, in the last few months the discourse has changed and it became an open season to demonise Islam. The watershed was US President George W Bush’s intemperate language last month when he described terrorists as ‘Islamic fascists’ – provocatively evoking, comparisons between Islam and the tyrannical fascist regimes of the past, effectively demonstrating that the war against terror is in reality a war against Islam and Muslims. The new series of attacks on Islam reached new heights with the tactless comments made by Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to Germany earlier this month. Previously it had been inconceivable that the spiritual head of one billion Catholics could make such an outspoken attack on Islam.”