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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Links and Resources on the Current Persecution of Afghan Christians

1. Here are some links to reports on the situation of Christians in Afghanistan.

New York Times: Afghanistan suspends two aids groups. May 30.

Reuters: Afghanistan to probe NGOs after “preaching” report. May 31

International Christian Concern: Afghan parliamentarian calls for execution of Christians. June 2

Christian Today: Afghan parliamentarian calls for execution of Christians. June 3.

Elizabeth Kendal Blog: fghanistan: what chance do 'apostates' have when their government is pursuing peace and reconciliation with an ascendant Taliban? June 10. - A VERY GOOD OVERVIEW

World Magazine: Kill the Christians.  June 18.

Barnabas Fund Report: Afghan Christians plead for help as they are exposed and threatened with execution. June 18.

Barnabas Fund: Letter from Afghan Christians in India. June 18. 

2. Addresses to which readers might consider sending a letter of protest:

US Ambassador to Afghanistan

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry
C/O Department of State
22101 C St NW
Washington DC 20520

Afghan Ambassador to the USA
 Ambassador Said T. Jawad
The Embassy of Afghanistan
2341 Wyoming Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008


Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan

Ambassador Paul Foley
Kabul Bag
Locked Bag 40
ACT 2604


Afghan Ambassador to Australia
Ambassador Dr Amanullah Jayhoon
The Embassy of Aghanistan
PO Box 155
Deakin West 

ACT 2600

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Open Letter from the Afghan Christian Community - AN URGENT PLEA FOR HELP & INTERVENTION

This post passes on an urgent and passionate plea for help and intervention on behalf of Afghan Christians. It has been issued by Afghan Christians in India, in response to a very recent wave of arrests, torture, and imprisonment of Christians in Afghanistan.  An Afghan member of parliament has even called for Afghan Christians to be executed publicly. 

I attach the Afghan Christians' letter here, together with its introduction, also from Afghan Christians.

There are some painful ironies in the fact that the government of Afghanistan is engaging in a campaign to brutalize and eliminate its Christian citizens. For example:
  1. Soldiers of predominately Christian nations like the USA, Australian and Great Britain have been sacrificing their lives in an attempt to establish peace and the rule of law in Afghanistan. Is the public execution of Christians what they have been dying for?
  2. Afghanistan's constitution was established under the watchful eye of a foreign military presence.  Yet this constitution states that laws must be based on Islam.  This implicitly makes the Islamic Sharia the basis of law, and the Sharia includes laws which mandate the killing of apostates. (Article 3: "No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan." Also Article 119, the Judge's oath states: "I swear in the name of God Almighty to attain justice and righteousness in accordance with tenets of the Holy religion of Islam".)
  3. Any Afghan who is born as the child of a Muslim father, and who later becomes baptized as a Christian would be in danger of his or her life in Afghanistan today.  The irony is that this is the  situation of President Obama.  Obama explained how he was raised in a secular home and has put out statements that he is not and never has been a Muslim. I do not question Obama's personal faith.  My point is a different one, that if he was brought to trial in Afghanistan today, Obama would most likely be convicted of apostasy, because of his birth to a Muslim father. 
I call upon all the nations who are currently providing protection to the Afghanistan government to put pressure on Afghanistan to stop this cruel and inhumane persecution.

Mark Durie



We need your help to stop the Afghan government from arresting Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution!

The enclosed letter addresses recent events inside Afghanistan that have unfolded since May 27th, 2010 after an incendiary documentary showing photos and videos of secret "Afghan Christian Converts" aired on Noorin TV, an independent tv station based in Kabul. The documentary was the first of its kind to ever air publicly on national TV in Afghanistan, a country that considers itself to be 100% Muslim.  The controversial content, revealing names and faces of supposed Afghan Christian converts, sparked riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan in the days that followed.

During the ensuing protests, demonstrators called on President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government to take strong and decisive actions against these exposed Afghan Christian converts by enforcing the Afghan constitution, based on Islamic Sharia law, which clearly call for the arrest and public execution of anyone who leaves Islam for another religion.

According to an online report by the Associated Free Press dated June 1, 2010, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, deputy secretary of the Afghan lower house in parliament, called for the execution of Christian converts from Islam saying, "those Afghans that appeared in this video film should be executed in public, the house should order the Attorney General and the NDS (intelligence agency) to arrest these Afghans and execute them".

In another reported statement, Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from Herat, declared that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity is "not a crime". Waheed Omar, the spokesman for the President, told reporters that President Hamid Karzai himself was "personally" taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country´s spy agency to do a full investigation and "to take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon".

Reports from inside Afghanistan already tell of many arrests in recent days, frequent and ongoing searches of homes and businesses, as well as claims of torture by those under arrest in an effort to forcibly extract the names of other Afghan Christian converts and the locations of secret Afghan Christian "churches" and underground fellowships throughout the country.

In light of all these events, and the perplexing media silence on these atrocities occurring in plain view of the international community, we are pleading with the Body of Christ around the world to support our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters during this critical time by taking a firm and vocal stand against the severe and devastating wrongs being committed against them by their own government!

We ask that you please forward and share the enclosed "open letter to the church" with your friends, churches, prayer groups, human rights advocates, the media, your local representatives, senators and other government bodies and authorities... We need everyone's help to make our voices heard!
We must make people aware that right now our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters are being subjected to forcible arrest, intimidation, fear, torture and certain public execution merely for choosing to be Christian! We must raise up a standard against these egregious injustices and blatant human rights violations by taking a strong and public stand against these unconscionable actions being perpetrated and condoned by the Afghan government from the parliament floor against its own people!

The enclosed letter was written on June 8, 2010 by Afghan Christians who are currently living in exile from their beloved homeland because they were forced to flee their country in order to save their lives and the lives of their families, due to orders of execution issued against them by the Afghan government for choosing to convert to Christianity:

Letter to the Body of Christ around the world,
written by members of the Afghan Christian community on June 9, 2010:

To the Body of Christ:

This letter is written by the Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi, India which is a small community of 150 Afghan Christian refugees and asylum seekers.

We left our country because we were sentenced to death on the account of our Christian faith (conversion), as Afghanistan is a Muslim Country, the Afghan Government is an Islamic government, and Islam is the only formal religion of the country, and according to the Constitutional law of the Afghan Islamic Republic, conversion is considered as a big crime, Christian are called pagans and infidels and are sentenced to death by the Afghan Government. Christians are considered criminals. Death penalty is waiting for all those who want to leave the darkness and come to the true light, repent from their sins, and put their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and Savior of all human being.

We believe that you (the Body of Christ) have already heard that some pictures and movies of the Afghan believers (from Delhi and Kabul) were shown by an Afghan Private TV (Noorin TV), this TV channel showed these picture in a especial program (Sarzameen Man), and the Government and people were encouraged and provoked to think about the issue of conversion, to make a stand against it and to take serious and practical measures and actions to destroy Afghan Converted Christians (Sons of God) and those who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lost.

The Afghan Parliament, Senate, Religious Council and Islamic Parties and leaders made statements that the Afghan Government has to search, find, arrest, deliver to courts and executes all Afghan Christians, and the Christian NGOs and Organization have to be stopped too. University students protested against Afghan Christians in Kabul and Herat Provinces, and the Afghan Government also made a statement that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed, and the Christian NGOs and Organizations which involved with the issues of conversion will be closed.

Mr. Mujajdi the Chairman Of Afghan Senate said that if the Afghan Government does not take serious action, he and other Islamic leaders will call and request the Afghan people to take practical measures to kill all Afghan Christians. President Karzai himself showed his personal interest in this regard and said that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed and Christian organizations which are involved with this issue will be stopped. He ordered the Afghan security organs to take serious measures in this regard. The Afghan Home Minister and the Chairman of the Afghan Intelligence told  the Afghan Parliament that 4 Afghan Christian individuals and one family have been arrested and they are under investigation, 13 NGOs have been named and suspended, the names of Afghan Christians have been listed, and the Afghan Intelligence agency is trying to arrest them. Two Church organizations by the names of WCA and NCA have been closed.  As we are in contact with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, many believers are arrested, our houses are checked by police and intelligence people in Afghanistan, our families and parents (though they are Muslim) are under investigation and even arrested, and all Afghan believers are misplaced.
  1. So, We (Afghan Christian Community) along with our other Afghan Christian brothers and sisters who are in Afghanistan request you to:
  2. Please pray for us and for this critical situation, pray for those who are arrested, and those who are under investigation.Please come together and help your Afghan brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are sentenced to death, we are arrested, we are under investigation, the Afghan Government kills us because we believe on Jesus Christ, we know that we should consider it pure joy when we suffer (James 1: 1 -4), and we are enjoying all suffering all joy. But we also know that faith without deeds is useless (James 2: 14 - 17), and this is the time to raise your voice for your brothers and sisters, for our children, for our old parents, for the execution of thousand Afghan believers. This is the day that all of us should come together and pray, think, help and raise our voices to the International Community, to put pressure on the Afghan Government to stop killing, persecuting and executing Afghan Christians, to give us freedom of religion, to respect and accept us as Afghan Christians.
  3. We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes, while thousand of their brothers and sisters (Body of Christ) are in pain, facing life danger and death penalty, and are tortured, persecuted and called criminals because they believe in the Truth.
We need to wake up, get up and speak up today, and to prove it that we are really in concern, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should help the persecuted part of the body of Christ, for His Glory. If we really believe that Lord Jesus Christ is God, then, He commands us to love Him and to love our neighbor, if our own brothers and sisters, are in pain and suffering, and we are silent and we ignore them and their suffering, then the question is that do we really obey Lord Jesus's commandment to  love Him and our neighbor?

So, dear brothers and sister (the Body of Christ), we (Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi) on behalf of all Afghan Christians request you to support us by your prayers and practical measures, let us tell the Afghan Government that we are not pagans and infidels, we are not criminals because of our Christian faith, and let us tell them not to sentence us to death.

May God bless you!
Afghan Christian Community
(Obaid S. Christ)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Gaza Flotilla

The plethora of reports of the Gaza Flotilla incident are confused, contested and contradictory.  This is hardly surprising, given the intensity of the feelings on each side, the traumatic nature of the events, and the reality that propaganda generators are hard at work.  It seems unlikely that we will ever know exactly what happened.

Some examples of conflicting reports:

The Free Gaza website (organizers of the flotilla):
Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes [sic] dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck. They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep.
Andre Abu Khalil, camerman for Al-Jazeera and passenger on the Marmara, gave a very different description of the context of the boarding:
"Twenty Turkish men formed a human shield to prevent the Israeli soldiers from scaling the ship. They had slingshots, water pipes and sticks."
"They were banging the pipes on the side of the ship to warn the Israelis not to get closer."

According to Reuters, Andrew Abu Khalil also said that an initial landing by a small group of commandos armed with anti-riot weapons was overpowered by activists wielding sticks. "There were four Israeli soldiers brought to the lowest deck. They had fracture wounds."  Then, according to Abu Khalil, a second wave of soldiers stormed the ship, shots were fired, and nine Turkish activists were killed.
Nathan Schneider ...  wrote on Sojourners' God's Politics blog that the intentions of the protesters were peaceful:
"It appears as if some people aboard took matters into their own hands and attacked the Israeli soldiers. But many of those leading the mission were seasoned activists committed to and trained in nonviolence. Their primary cargo was humanitarian aid, and their purpose was to make a political point, not engage Israeli forces in combat. If fighting broke out when armed Israeli forces arrived that is to be regretted, but that should not be mistaken for the Gaza Freedom Movement's intentions."
Barry Rubin has reported on the intentions of Bülent Yildirim, IHH leader and organizer of the flotilla.  Yildirim has stated that he was on his way to Gaza, ready to die as a martyr. His ideals did not include nonviolence, nor could he be called a 'peace activist'.

It is very difficult to tell exactly what happened on board the Marmara. Here is my best guess.

No doubt many of those involved in the flotilla were, as Nathan Schneider said, genuine nonviolent activists.  Their strategy was to attempt to breach the blockade, and thereby to force the Israelis to interrupt their mission and seize their boats. The idea was to force Israel to use its soldiers to interrupt the flotilla.  This would bring condemnation of Israel, and increase international pressure for the end of the blockade.

There was the stated goal of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza.  However the whole point of running the blockade was to create publicity. They knew  Israel would need to use force of some kind – you can't shop a flotilla with a fishing boat – and the cameras were running.

However the coalition of groups linked into the Free Gaza movement included Islamic radicals, who, like Bülent Yildirim, had a heart for jihad, and talked (and chanted) about war against the Jews, holy martyrdom (shahid) and the victory of Islam.  Thus, it came about that among the volunteers on board were some not-so-peaceful Turks, members of IHH.  (See also a report on Palestinian Television about the flotilla leader's commitment to jihad and desire for martyrdom.)

It seems these Turks had been trained in more than non-violence, and they had a different plan in mind. When the IDF commandos arrived, the would-be jihadi martyrs were ready and willing to take the fight to them with metal or wooden rods torn from the fabric of the ship, slingshots, and knives.   The Turks had the benefit of surprise, and managed to beat the first Israeli soldiers unconscious with these weapons. They then dragged their wounded captives down below deck.

At this point the equation changed radically.  Although the ships had apparently been searched for weapons before leaving for Gaza, the captured Israeli soldiers had hand guns in their holsters.  Their capture meant that the Turks now had both guns and hostages. The Israelis knew this. They also had to assume that their fellow commandos' lives were in danger. The Israelis could no longer assume that the Marmara was full of people 'trained in nonviolence', as Schneider put it.  If some passengers were willing to beat armed soldiers unconscious with metal rods, and now had guns, what level of violence would be considered 'proportionate'?  The Israeli commandos went in with guns firing.

What is unclear is whether some of those who died were killed unlawfully. Anyone who beats an Israeli commando unconscious can hardly expect the rest of his unit to knock politely on the door asking for the return of his body.  In the melee and the desperate heat of conflict, people can easily get killed for little more than refusing to stand down with a knife or a stick in their hand, especially when commandos are racing against the clock to rescue a comrade. Under such circumstances the boundary between murder and reasonable use of force can be a very fine line indeed.  About this issue the eye-witness reports are conflicted — as they are in many other respects.

These events are indeed tragic.  I am grieved for the families of those killed and wounded.  The deceased are now being celebrated in Turkey as heroes and martyrs for Allah. What a tragic, pointless waste of life!

No doubt the IDF will be working on improving their ship boarding techniques.  But a group which should be made to shoulder a good deal of responsibility for these futile deaths is the international coalition of 'peace activists' who naively linked up with Islamic radicals, and insisted on believing that they were 'peace activists'.  Why did they do this?

The problem is denial and an unforgivable lack of discernment.  As long as muddled-headed activists deny and conceal the ideology of jihad, which Hamas is so publicly and obviously wedded to, they will find nothing wrong with opening Gaza's borders to rockets and other weapons, and they will keep getting into boats with Khaybar-chanting religious radicals who have no interest in peace, unless it involves a victory for the 'Army of Muhammad'.

The international 'peace activists' can shout as much as they like that it is hateful bigotry to criticize the ideology of Islamic jihad.  In reality, not facing up to the implications of radical Islamic ideology, and not exposing  jihadist ideology to the light of day, is the reason why nine people died on board the Marmara last week. If the international activists had exercised more discernment, those Turks would still be alive today, Israeli soldiers would not be in hospital recovering from broken bones and cracked skulls, and tempers would not be running as hot as they are in the Middle East.

POSTSCRIPT.  For an analysis of the jihad credentials of some participants in the flotilla, see The Jihadist "Istanbul Declaration" and the Gaza Flotilla by Jonathan Fighel.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Khaybar Chant and the Gaza flotilla

In these days, the Israel Defense Force's fatal engagement with Islamists on the Marmara has been drawing intense criticism from far and wide.

However of particular interest to me was an Al-Jazeera report on the flotilla, showing interviews with an international collection of Muslim radicals on one of the boats. 

The report, posted on YouTube, includes a scene of a group of Muslim men sitting around on board and cheerfully punching their fists in the air as they recite the popular Arabic chant (starts at O:57): 
Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahud, jaish Muhammad sa ya ‘ud
‘Remember Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return!’

This same chant was also recited during a Muslim demonstration outside the Danish embassy on February 3, 2006.  One of the protestors shouted to the embassy:
You have declared war against Allah and his prophet. Take lesson of Theo Van Gogh! Take lesson of the Jews of Khaybar! Take lessons from the examples that you can see! For you will pay with your blood!
Likewise, when Amrozi, the smiling Bali bomber, entered the courtroom
on August 7, 2003, the day of his sentencing, he invoked this same chant, crying out:
Jews, remember Khaybar. The armies of Muhammad are coming back to defeat you.
It is indeed good to remember Khaybar.

In my Quadrant article Remembering Khaybar, I described the significance of this reference to Muhammad's second victory over People of the Book (the first was the genocide of the Qurayza Jews in Medina) when the forces of Islam defeated the Jews living at the oasis of Khaybar, enslaving many and subjecting the rest to a dhimma pact of surrender. At Khaybar the first dhimmis were created, and institution of the dhimma was inaugurated, which came to determine the fate of millions of non-Muslims who have lived under Muslim rule.

The Khaybar chant celebrates the goal of reducing the Jews to the status of dhimmis living under Sharia rule. It is a war cry which summarizes the stated intention of Palestinian radical Muslims.

This was no humanitarian mission devoted to helping the people of Gaza, but the 'army of Muhammad' reciting chants as it psyched itself for jihad against the Jews.

John Brennan's Polysemous Jihad

Today there are many debates about the meaning of the Arabic word jihad.  Most recently John Brennan, White House adviser on terrorism, has  reiterated views which he had previously presented at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against jihadists. Describing terrorists in this way, using the legitimate term “jihad,” which means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal, risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.
Brennan is correct when he implies that jihad is a prestigious term in Islam.  To a pious Muslim, calling someone a jihadi has positive connotations. It is rather like calling them a 'freedom fighter' in English.

But he is quite mistaken when he implies that jihad does not mean fighting and killing others.

Jihad is a polysemous term: it has more than one meaning.  Technically it is derived from the root j.h.d which means 'to strive, do one's utmost', so one of jihad's meanings is to struggle against something unpleasant. Islamic scholars, in technical discussions about the nature of this struggle, sometimes have referred to the devil, a physical enemy, or oneself.  However the default meaning of jihad came to be  'fight for Allah against non-Muslims'.  Hans Wehr's great dictionary of Arabic defined it simply as 'fight, battle … against the infidels, as a religious duty' (p.142). 

It is hardly news that words can have more than one meaning. For example here is part of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for the word communion:
1. the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings.
2. (also Holy Communion) the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared; the Eucharist.
Communion’s basic meaning has to do with sharing, but a secondary meaning exists which refers to the religious rite also known as the mass or the eucharist.

This is polysemy - the phenomenon that a word can have more than one meaning.  Anyone can easily think of other examples.  The existence of one meaning does not negate the other meanings.  For example, the Arabic word zakat means 'purity', but as a religious term it also is a name for an obligatory charitable tax. Paying this tax is one of the five pillars of Islam. It would be ridiculous to argue that zakat does not mean 'tax', just because it also means 'purity'.

In Arabic, while it is true that jihad is derived from a root meaning 'strive', as a religious term,  it  came to have a meaning of warfare against infidels as early as the first decades of Islam. 

This sense is defined by Lane's great dictionary of classical Arabic, quoting from Muslim lexicographers, as: 'he fought, warred or waged war against the unbelievers'. The same meaning is given in the glossary of Muhammad Muhsin Khan's English translation of Sahih al-Bukhari (the 2nd most sacred text in Islam after the Quran):
Jihad: Holy fighting in the cause of Allah or any other kind of effort to make Allah's Word (Islam) superior, which is regarded as one of the principles of Islam.
Note that, according to Khan, jihad can mean 'any other kind of effort', but its primary meaning, given first, is 'holy fighting in the cause of Allah'.  These are not the glosses of Westerners or 'Orientalists' but the explanations of capable, well-trained and pious Muslim scholarss.

Centuries ago, the meaning of jihad as 'fighting infidels' was established as the default  meaning of the word, so much so, that when a pious Muslim speaks of a jihad against the devil, or a jihad against him or herself, this is like an English speakers saying that they are 'fighting evil' or 'making war against their own desires'. 

Evidence that warfare is the default meaning of jihad is that other meanings normally require a qualification, e.g. 'jihad of the tongue' is speaking out against evil.  As Firestone put it: "When the term is used without qualifiers … it is universally understood as war on behalf of Islam." (Jihad: the origin of holy war in Islam, p.17)  The difference between jihad and jihad of the tongue is like the difference in English between warfare and psychological warfare.

It is indisputable that in Islamic jurisprudence the technical religious meaning of jihad is warfare against non-Muslims.  This is why the Book of Jihad in the Sahih al-Bukhari is all about fighting and killing non-believers. The same is true of any of the other canonical hadith collections. The jihad of the hadiths – the traditions of Muhammad – is not a struggle with oneself or to speak well.   Sahih al-Buhari's Book of Jihad is headed by a famous passage from Sura 9:111 of the Quran:
Verily Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for theirs [in return for their lives] is Paradise. They fight in his cause, so they kill others and are killed.
Another hadith in the Book of Jihad of Al-Bukhari states 'If you are called for fighting, go forth immediately.'

Countless orthodox Muslims writings have stated that jihad means warfare against non-Muslims to extend Islam and make it dominant.  Many Muslims are very aware of this meaning, and this is of course one reason why the terrorists have had a measure of success in recruiting volunteers.  Far from being 'desperate' for respectability, as Brennan claims Bin Ladin to be, Al Qa'ida  can count upon the great prestige of the military meaning of jihad.  This is one reason why Islamic terrorism is so hard to eradicate: the prestige of the concept of jihad gives fighting against infidels credibility.

When John Brennan declared recently that jihad is a 'legitimate tenet of Islam', he made a gross tactical error.  Purporting to protect the sensibilities of Muslims, he was in fact declaring the moral validity of religious warfare in Islam, for to say that jihad is legitimate it to endorse the right of Muslims to fight and kill to make Islam dominant in the world. This is, after all, what jihad means, according to the usage of so great Muslim scholars of past centuries, the plain teachings of Islam's canonical texts, and the Islamic knowledge of many, if not all, Muslims today.

As I was preparing this, an Arabic-speaking friend suggested, by way of an experiment, to a few Muslim friends that jihad means purifying oneself, as Brennan claimed. One of the Muslims thought my friend had lost his mind; another thought he was joking; and a third declared that this a Western strategy to weaken Islam and disarm Muslims.

It is understandable that the American government wishes to avoid using terms which appear to give legitimacy to terrorists. But that does not mean they should be instructing the American people to respect the legitimacy of Islamic jihad, as Brennan appears to have done. 

One must ask whose interests it serves to deny the traditional religious and militaristic meaning of the word jihad

At one level, this is a ploy by Brennan to preserve two incompatible beliefs, both of which he fervently holds.  One is the belief that Islam is a respectable, 'legitimate' religion in all its fundamentals.  The other is the belief that no legitimate religion teaches violence as a means of extending its own power and influence. Yet one of these two beliefs must go.  Brennan could convert to Islam and give up the second belief, or allow himself to think less well of Islam and give up the first.  But wavering in the middle, insisting that others must respect Islam, yet denying one of its core tenets, just looks muddled.  It is also, ironically, deeply disrespectful and arrogant.

For the present day victims of jihad, Brennan's statement are enough to make the blood boil.  His declaration of the legitimacy of jihad is unspeakably hurtful for the victims of the oppression of jihad in Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines ... the list of jihad hot spots goes on and on. How is burning worshipers inside a church pure, holy and legitimate? How is abducting women and Islamizing them through rape and forced marriage legitimate?  How is enslaving children legitimate? Let the Copts, the Christian and Mandean Iraqis, the animist and Christian Sudanese and the Christians of northern Nigeria, and the many Muslim victims too — who all know with absolute clarity that what they have suffered from is jihad – let these hundreds of thousands of victims prosecute Brennan for inciting religious hatred and endorsing murder, rape and enslavement.

If John Brennan's cognitive confusion and crippled, sub-rational religious world view give opportunity to denial to roost in his mind,  this is not the only cause of the problem. Another root of his denial is propaganda: Mr Brennan has been schooled into his beliefs by Muslim dialogue partners.  His denial has been carefully cultivated to lull and soothe him into a state of confused comfort about the teachings of Islam, despite the existence of overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to the contrary. This tactic disempowers resistance to the worst aspects of Islam, and brings  strategic advantages to the project of dawa, or propagation of Islam.  It also allows  Muslims to be molly-coddled protecting them from having to face up to the ethical problems inherent in Islam's teachings.

It ought to be a public scandal that a world religion has always taught and still teaches the use of violence to extend its power.  One does not need to  attend an Al Qa'ida training camp to hear this view promoted: a visit to the classrooms of Al-Azhar University or countless other Islamic higher institutions of learning around the world would suffice.  In place after place, jihad as religious war against the infidel remains a cherished part of the religious curriculum.  The word jihad stands for a doctrine of classical, orthodox Islam, that Muslims have the divine right to impose Islam's dominance by force of arms.

John Brennan's Orwellian semantic whitewashing of a word whose meaning has been a stable building block of  Islamic theology, jurisprudence and practice for over 1000 years is a transparent attempt at thought-control.  The point of this linguistic sleight of hand is to suppress the possibility of engagement with the truth, but without removing the root of the problem.  This only postpones the critical and painful self-examination which the Muslim world so desperately needs to undergo.  For Americans is it manifestly suicidal, weakening their ability to defend themselves against global jihad.  How can such a great nation as America have stooped to such abysmal depths of incompetence and moral failure?

A better strategy for John Brennan and the White House is to throw a spotlight upon Al Qa'ida and their ilk by terming them jihadists and Islamic terrorists.  This is not in order to attempt to make Al Qa'ida look prestigious. Infidel America should not imagine it has such a great influence on the minds of Muslims.  If a young Muslim in Pakistan is trying to work out what jihad really means, will he listen to the non-believer John Brennan or the authentic words of Muhammad in the prestigious Sahih al-Bukhari?  Surely the latter.  As Abu Qatada said, in response to President Bush's now famous "Islam is peace" line:
I am astonished by President Bush when he claims there is nothing in the Quran that justifies jihad violence in the name of Islam. Is he some kind of Islamic scholar? Has he ever actually read the Quran?
The point of calling Al Qa'ida jihadists would be to draw attention to the religious aspects of the terrorists' ideology.  Far from raising the esteem of Bin Ladin in the eyes of the Muslim world, this would put pressure on Muslims to engage critically with Al Qa'ida's ideology, denounce it, and distance themselves from it.

 In practice, what is needed is for Pakistan to cut off the life-blood of terrorist recruitment by suppressing the teaching of jihad as part of the mainstream Islamic curriculum in its madrassahs.  Islamic universities, high schools, primary school and pre-schools all over the world need to excise this dogma from the current emphasis it receives in so many programs.  The many verses of the Quran and traditions of Muhammad which refer to jihad as warfare cannot be erased from the Islam's core foundational texts, but they can made less prominent in young people's minds.

The Muslim world should be placed under pressure to ban jihad from the curriculum.  The Palestinian Authority would be a good place to start. It is a terrible irony that the PA, funded generously in part by the US, passes on this very ideology to its children which John Brennan claims has no status in Islam. The very administration which he serves is paying millions for militant jihad to be spoon-fed to Muslim children on the West Bank.

No matter how many times John Brennan asserts that jihad is a pure, holy and legitimate part of Islam, its continued presence in the curriculum of Muslim young people around the world remains a threat to America's security.  Instead of sugar-coating the word jihad, so that its baleful yet prestigious influence can continue under the negligent eye of myopic non-Muslims governments, the White House should be asking that the heritage and legacy of this word be brought into the light, interrogated, permitted to be contested, and, for the good of all, unequivocally rejected.

[PS Despite the comparison made earlier, calling terrorists jihadists is not equivalent to calling terrorists 'freedom fighters', for the institution of jihad does not bring freedom.  Jihad is not simply a struggle for justice.  It is a struggle for the dominance of Islam over other faiths, or as the Quran puts it:  
He [Allah] it is Who hath sent His messenger [Muhammad] with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to triumph over all religion. … (Sura 48:28)
There is in fact no word in the English language which encompasses  both the religious prestige of jihad and its oppressive totalitarian implications.]