MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A top Bahraini official called Friday for new terminology to describe the fight against extremists such as the Islamic State group that better describes their desire for theocratic rule.
Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa issued the call at the start of the annual Manama Dialogue security conference in the tiny island nation, a key Western ally in the Middle East. He said the time has come to discard the term "war on terrorism" because it is misleading — describing the tool of extremists rather than their ideology — and because it fails to capture "the totality of our conflict."
"We are not only fighting terrorists. We are fighting theocrats," the crown prince said.
Salman is next in line to lead Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and is a member of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The Sunni-ruled kingdom has been roiled by ongoing low-level unrest following a 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising calling for greater political rights that was led by the country's Shiite majority.
Salman's comments reflect the sensitivity among many moderate Muslims that their religion is used by extremists.
The name of the Islamic State group in particular upsets many Muslims who reject its claims of a self-declared caliphate ruled by a violent interpretation of Islamic law. The group is also known as ISIS and ISIL as well as the Arabic name Daesh — a term the group itself disapproves of.
"This war we are engaged in cannot be against Islam ... It is unfair to those of us who practice our religion responsibly," the crown prince said. "It sullies the name of a great tradition ... that is divine and must be above politics."
Salman suggested it might be more appropriate to use the term "fascist theocracy" to describe the extremists' ideology.
"We must find a term we can all share," he added. "We will be fighting these theocrats for a very long time."
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