For 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama steadfastly avoided the suggestion that extremism was embedded in Muslim beliefs.

"Islam is peace," Bush said during a visit to a Washington Islamic center just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "The face of terror is not the true face of Islam."

But on the fringes of the terrorism debate, a community of self-described "anti-jihad" experts and commentators emerged who frequently equated Islam and radicalism. They were marginalized by mainstream conservatives, and civil rights leaders dubbed them "Islamophobes."

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