On 4th June 2009, Quilliam issued the following media briefing:
Following the US President Barack Obama’s ground-breaking and courageous speech today in Cairo, Quilliam welcomes a nuanced but significant change in Obama’s language. In his Cairo speech, Obama notably avoided any use of the term ‘the Muslim world’ and instead adopted ‘Muslim majority countries’ and ‘Muslim communities’.
Quilliam emphasises that there is no monolithic ‘Muslim community’ nor is there a singular homogenous entity known as ‘the Muslim world’, rather there are diverse and distinctive Muslim communities that need to be reflected in our discourse. Using the term ‘the Muslim world’ only serves to bolster the Islamist and Al Qaeda narrative of ‘the West’ against ‘Islam’ – of a battle of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ or ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. By omitting this, Obama has taken a positive step in the battle of ideas and in realizing his promise that America is not fighting a war against Islam. In the last two days, the release of desperate statements by both Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden indicates the threat they feel from the shift in US policy.
The use of the term ‘the Muslim world’ by the British government—for example, in a recent speech by David Miliband, the UK Foreign Secretary—as well as its widespread use among media outlets, only serves to reinforce the Al Qaeda narrative. Quilliam recommends that editors in media organizations, Muslim community leaders, and officials and ministers of the British Government use language that strengthens the case against Al Qaeda and reflects the true diversity of Muslims around the world.
Muslims around the world
Global Muslim communities
The Islamic world
The Muslim world
The Muslim community