Don't confuse terrorism with Islam, says EU
By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Last Updated: 2:52am BST 30/03/2007
The European Union has drawn up guidelines advising government spokesmen to refrain from linking Islam and terrorism in their statements.
Brussels officials have confirmed the existence of a classified handbook which offers "non-offensive" phrases to use when announcing anti-terrorist operations or dealing with terrorist attacks.
Banned terms are said to include "jihad", "Islamic" or "fundamentalist".
The word "jihad" is to be avoided altogether, according to some sources, because for Muslims the word can mean a personal struggle to live a moral life.
One alternative, suggested publicly last year, is for the term "Islamic terrorism" to be replaced by "terrorists who abusively invoke Islam".
An EU official said that the secret guidebook, or, "common lexicon", is aimed at preventing the distortion of the Muslim faith and the alienation of Muslims in Europe.
"The common lexicon includes guidance on a number of frequently used terms where lack of care by EU and member states' spokespeople may give rise to misunderstandings," he said.
"Careful usage of certain terms is not about empty political correctness but stems from astute awareness of the EU's interests in the fight against terrorism.
"Terrorists exploit and augment suspicions."
Details on the contents of the lexicon remain secret, but British officials stressed that it is there as a helpful aid "providing context" for civil servants making speeches or giving press conferences.
"We are fully signed up to this, but it is not binding," said one.
However, Conservative MEP Syed Kamall hit out at the lexicon. "It is this kind of political correctness and secrecy that creates resentment among both the mainstream in Europe and in Islam," he said.
Meanwhile, UK Independence Party MEP Gerard Batten claimed that the EU was in denial over the true roots of terrorism.
"This type of newspeak shows that the EU refuses to face reality," he said. "The major world terrorist threat is one posed by ideology and that ideology is inspired by fundamentalist jihadi Islam."