No one ever criticizes Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) for the things he says because no one has ever heard him speak. But he apparently sends out emails that have caught the attention of a cross-denominational group of clergy folk who today sent Royce a letter asking him to stop using the phrase "Islamist terrorism."
"As a diverse group of Southern California interfaith leaders, intellectuals and activists, we are deeply concerned by your continued use of inflammatory rhetoric linking Islam to terrorism," begins the letter that is posted on the website of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' California office in Anaheim.
The group cites as an example Royce's June and July newsletters, where he states, “Given the threat from Islamist terrorism facing our country, we need to be acting urgently to protect the United States everyday.” But a copy of the summer newsletter Royce mailed to the homes of constituents includes no such phrase. However, the phrase does appear in "e-newsletters" from Royce titled "Victory for U.S. Intelligence" (dated July 15) and "How to Close the Terrorist Loophole" (June 24). People must sign up to receive the e-newsletters.
"Congressman Royce, using this type of language may not only offend and alienate the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who abhor violence, but it may also unintentionally legitimize terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and other anti-American forces," states the letter.
It is signed by Tustin Presbyterian Church elder Pamela Reed Allison, representing Progressive Christians Uniting, Orange County; Eric Altman, the executive director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development; Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, the co-founder of Jews on First; Amin David, president of Los Amigos of Orange County; the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, convener of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group; the Rev. Sarah Halverson, senior pastor at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa; Zeke Hernandez, president of Santa Ana's chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Rabbi Steven Jacobs, the founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation; and Richard Katsuda, co-chairman of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress.
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Also, the Rev. Peter Laarman, executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting in Los Angeles; Ed Linberg, associate pastor at First Christian Church in Fullerton; Kathy Masaoka, co-chairwoman of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress; Kay Ochi, co-chairwoman of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress; the Rev. R. Winston Presnall of First Presbyterian Church in Orange; the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra; Elizabeth Sholes, Public Policy director of the California Council of Churches/California Church IMPACT; Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, executive director of Pilipino Workers Center; Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California; and Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Their letter notes that as the ranking member on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Royce is "no doubt aware that in January 2008, the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and in March 2008, the National Counterterrorism Center produced publications that recommended using terminology that is more effective at isolating extremists and removing the false claim of religiosity they seek to justify their barbaric actions.
"According to the Homeland Security recommendations, by using phrases like 'Islamic terrorism,' U.S. officials and representatives may be 'unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesman for ordinary Muslims.' The report also urges 'caution in using terms such as "jihadist," "Islamist" and "holy warrior" as grandiose descriptions,' to avoid associating acts of violence or terrorism with religious concepts."
The spiritual dream team says it is awaiting Royce's response on the matter. So are we. His Fullerton office advised us to call the congressman's media rep tomorrow.