In the wake of the Boston bombings, Fox host Sean Hannity revived his false narrative that Obama is soft on terrorism because he failed to characterize “jihad” as inherently violent in a 2010 speech. In fact, Obama's approach has been praised, and former President George W. Bush made similar statements about the nature of “jihad.”
On the April 23 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity claimed that after the Boston terror attack, President Obama is still unwilling to “engage in a war on radical Islam.” After playing a November 7, 2010, clip of Obama answering a question in Mumbai, India, about jihad, explaining that “the phrase 'jihad' has a lot of meanings within Islam and is subject to a lot of different interpretations,” Hannity responded: “There are not really many interpretations -- that's spin. Jihad equals holy war.” From the show:
But Obama's interpretation of jihad is no different from the definition used by the Bush administration that preceded him. The 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, issued by the Bush administration's National Security Council, stated, “Terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence and murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers.” And in an October 2005 speech, Bush said that “extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.” He continued:
As we work together to defeat the terrorists, we must be very clear about the enemies we face. The killers who take the lives of innocent men, women, and children are followers of a violent ideology very different from the religion of Islam. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.
Their strategy will fail. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing chapter 5, verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. I appreciate those of you here who have joined these scholars in rejecting violent extremists. And I believe the time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to denounce an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles your noble faith.
Further, Muslim leaders praised Obama's speech at the time. A November 8, 2010, FoxNews.com article detailing the reaction of Muslims in India to Obama's speech reported that Kamal Farooqi, a prominent member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which protects the use of Islamic Shariah law for Muslims in India, was quoted saying, “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. ... To that extent President Obama is correct.” Parliamentarian Rashid Alvi added, “He is right -- jihad originally meant struggle against injustice, it does not mean killing the innocent.”
This is not the first time Hannity has attacked Obama's remarks. After showing a clip of Obama's speech on the November 8, 2010, edition of his show, Hannity asked Newt Gingrich, “Why couldn't he just say, 'jihad killed 3,000 Americans'?” Fox News has a long history of making false assertions about Muslims and mischaracterizing the meaning of “jihad.”