Originally Posted by Junon
If there is no consensus even amongst Muslims for appropriate terms, I hardly think you'd want to entrust western media with the task.
The problem is that there are a huge number of different groups involved, with seemingly more being created or coming to the fore every day. It's too much to expect each one to be analysed and described individually - especially when the group themselves may not be crystal clear about their objectives.
As for comparisons to other non-Muslim conflicts/civil wars etc, I'm struggling to think of any major incident that involves specifically religious objectives. (The Northern Ireland conflict had a religious aspect, but since both sides were Christian it would be of no value to refer to them as 'Christian terrorists'.)
If the media called these groups simply 'Muslim' it would imply that all Muslims are part of it or share their objectives. So they look for a term that distinguishes or separates. They end up with terms like 'moderate' and 'extremist', 'fundamentalist' and 'Islamicist'. Of the set, I would have thought that Islamicist is the least perjorative. Yes, it has a negative image in the west - but so does the word 'Sharia', and you wouldn't object to that.
I often see people raise the objection that you are either a 'Muslim' or not, there can be no other distinction. But clearly there are
other distinctions like Shiite and Sunni, even if neither side want to admit the other to the fold. And within these sects there are many, many other subdivisions and shades of belief. (The same as any religion.)
Does no one have any suggestions for others terms the media could use?