Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Obama on Jihad: Islam is a Great Religion

Responding to a question at a "town hall" meeting with students at St. Xavier College in Mumbai, India, President Obama satisfied Islamists and pundits in India, but his own explanation of jihad and the greatness of Islam plays differently with American victims of terrorist attacks:

"The phrase Jihad has a lot of meaning within Islam. Islam is one of the world's great religions and more than a billion people who practise Islam, an overwhelming majority, view their obligations to their religion as the one that reaffirms peace, justice and fairness," the President responded.

UPDATE 7/27/13: President Obama Praises Islam for Making America What It Is

-- From "Obama connects with students" by Rahul Wadke, The Hindu Business Line 11/7/10

. . . right away came a straight yorker from a 20-year-old student: “What is your take on Jihad?”

Stumped briefly, Mr Obama said that jihad has different meanings in Islam and is subject to different interpretations.

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From "Muslim leaders approve Obama's 'jihad' remarks" by Bhaskar Roy, The Times of India 11/8/10

NEW DELHI: Muslim activists and opinion-makers on Sunday widely approved of President Barack Obama's remarks on jihad without hiding their reservations about the US policy towards the current turomil in the Islamic world.

In their opinion Obama's comments on jihad at Mumbai's St Xavier's College earlier in the day was a clear attempt at separating the violent campaign from the basic concept of jihad.

"Jihad can in no way assume the form of violence against the innocent and those who are perpetrating such violent acts have done great disservice to Islam," said Kamal Farooqi, a prominent member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. "To that extent President Obama is correct," he said.

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From "Obama Pointedly Questioned by Students in India" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times 11/7/10

He carefully avoided saying that he was opposed to jihad — which has several meanings, including both holy war and a personal quest for self-improvement — and instead said: “I think all of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified. And so, I think, one of the challenges that we face is, how do we isolate those who have these distorted notions of religious war.”

While Mr. Obama was dancing around questions — figuratively speaking — on Sunday, he also participated in some literal dancing, showing off some moves that, to the delight of photographers traveling with him, are likely to provide iconic images of his trip. Mr. Obama’s short performance came after student dancers doing a show for him implored him to join in.

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