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CAIR Outraged Over President's Use of Term 'Islamic Fascists'

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, the Council on American Islamic Relations has written a letter to President Bush objecting to his use of the term "Islamic fascist." I use that term as well.

Joining us now from Washington is Nihad Awad, director — executive director of CAIR.

OK. Are you going to tell me that Iran isn't a fascist state and the Mujahideen, the jihadists are not fascist people? Are you going to tell me, that sir?

NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Bill, thanks for having me. And allow me first to share with you and your viewers that our organization CAIR has issued a statement demanding the release of the FOX crew who were abducted or kidnapped today in Gaza. And we pray and hope for their safe return to do their job back to their families.

O'REILLY: Yes, I just meant to tell everybody we're not going to have much more on that because we are, you know, in the process of trying to get that solved.

AWAD: Sure.

O'REILLY: The question of the hour is, that your group does not want people like me and President Bush to say the term "Islamic fascists." And I submit to you, sir, that's exactly what these killers are.

AWAD: OK. And I will agree with you on one point, but also let's remember that President Bush after 9/11 used the term "crusades." Then White House officials retracted that term. And after that when we invaded Iraq, we called it Operation Infinite Justice. Then we retracted that term and we called it Enduring Freedom.

Now we could see that inflammatory rhetoric can be devastating to our image and the message we would like to send to the Muslim world. Number one, there's nothing Islamic about fascism. And there is no link between Islam as a religion and fascists.

O'REILLY: Let me stop you there. Let me stop you. OK?

AWAD: Go ahead.

O'REILLY: That's true. Is there anything — is there anything remotely connecting Italians with fascism or Germans with fascism? Because those two countries were at one time fascist states. Were they not?

AWAD: And you know what? And they are also — they're not Muslim. They were Christian. We never called them fascia Christians. And I'm saying here.

O'REILLY: No, we said Italy and Germany were fascist states. And right now, we're fighting a stateless enemy.

AWAD: Yes.

O'REILLY: ...but they are all Muslims. 100 percent of the terrorists that we're facing are Muslims.

AWAD: OK. But their actions are not inspired by Islam. And this is very important for you.

O'REILLY: Well, what is the jihad then?

AWAD: Jihad is a legitimate self-defense like the United States if it's attacked it defends itself, but terrorism is not Islamic. And terrorism is not inspired by Islam.

O'REILLY: Then why are all the terrorists Muslims?

AWAD: They are Muslim, but they're not Islamic. Their actions are not inspired by Islam. It's like Islam philosophy.

O'REILLY: OK, I agree with you. I agree with you. But they call themselves Muslims. They pray.

AWAD: OK.

O'REILLY: They believe Allah is commanding them to kill the infidels. So you've got to label them what they are.

AWAD: OK.

O'REILLY: And I'm going to go back to Iran. Iran is — they're the big problem.

AWAD: Let — well, it's very important for me to respond to you here.

O'REILLY: All right.

AWAD: Eric Rudolph is a Christian abortion bomber, who has been convicted. He aspires Christianity. He did it in the name of Christianity. You, the FOX, all the mainstream news media will never attribute or claim that he is a Christian.

O'REILLY: No, he's a nut.

AWAD: And you should not.

O'REILLY: But the militias, the far-right militias are fascists. And we call them neo-Nazis.

AWAD: And they're Christian.

O'REILLY: That's right.

AWAD: And I think Eric Rudolph aspired to Christianity.

O'REILLY: And we called him that.

AWAD: No, you do.

O'REILLY: Yes, we do.

AWAD: You don't call him Christian.

O'REILLY: Yes, we do. All the people in Hayden Lake and all those people up there in Idaho.

AWAD: But you never.

O'REILLY: .we label them neo-Nazis. And we told them that they were fundamental Christians. Absolutely we did.

AWAD: No, you never called them a Christian terrorist. And you should not. But I want you to reciprocate that respect to Islam and Muslims.

O'REILLY: I'm just telling.

AWAD: …because Islam clearly and loudly disassociate itself from these criminals and terrorists.

O'REILLY: One last question. The Taliban in Afghanistan, were they not fascists?

AWAD: They were fascists.

O'REILLY: OK, they were fascists, right?

AWAD: But they were.

O'REILLY: And they were practicing Sharia Muslim law. Come on.

AWAD: No. No. They — they deviated when they mistreated women, when they did not allow people to go to school.

O'REILLY: They did it in the name of Allah.

AWAD: Yes. But you and Eric Rudolph, anyone can just claim to do it in the name of Christianity. The other…

O'REILLY: And then I would label them that as well. Look, Hitler said he was a Christian and he was a fascist. I don't care about that.

AWAD: OK. My point here, Bill, is very clearly. We have to enlist Muslims worldwide and here in the United States, end this war on terrorism if we would like to win.

O'REILLY: All right.

AWAD: We should not alienate them because mainstream Muslims see themselves as offended.

O'REILLY: I don't want to alienate anybody, but I'm not going to play a politically correct game in the middle of a War on Terror.

AWAD: It is politically correct not to do it.

O'REILLY: Mr. Awad, OK, we appreciate you coming on and taking the fire.

AWAD: Thank you.

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