No surprise in anything here: Obama, as he has before, and as George W. Bush did before him, invokes the great unicorn in which we all must believe (on pain of charges of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”) but which no one has ever actually seen: a moderate form of Islam that does not teach warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. The peacefulness of individual Muslims does not establish the existence of this peaceful form of Islam, although many believe that it does, because when these peaceful Muslims are challenged on Islamic grounds by jihadists and Islamic supremacists, they are vulnerable: jihadists get recruits and justify their actions among Muslims by appealing to Islamic teachings and presenting themselves as the authentic Muslims. Peaceful Muslims must challenge that if — if — they really wish to lessen the influence jihadists have within Islamic communities.
“Islam great, but distorted by few extremists: Obama,” from the Indo-Asian News Service, November 7:
Islam is a great religion but there is a need to isolate those who have distorted its vision, US President Barack Obama told a gathering of college students, in Mumbai on Sunday. “Well, the phrase jehad has a lot of meanings within Islam. It is subject to lot of different interpretations. But I will say that first Islam is one of the world’s great religions and over a billion people practice Islam,” Obama said at the packed forecourt of St. Xavier’s College here.
“The overwhelming majority want peace, justice, fairness and tolerance. All of us recognise that this great religion, in the hands of a few extremists, has been distorted. One of the challenges we face is how to isolate those who have distorted its vision,” Obama said when a student asked for his views on jehad.
“The religion teaches peace, justice, fairness and tolerance. All of us recognise that this great religion cannot justify violence,” he added.
“We affirm that Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Jew or any other religion; we all need to treat each other with respect and dignity that Gandhi referred to. It’s a major challenge not only in India but also around the world,” said Obama, who looked at ease while interacting with the students gathered from six Mumbai colleges.