Incidentally, the infidels mentioned here are the Christians of Byzantium (or in Arabic, al-Rum, “the Romans”). That modern-day jihadis, such as Osama bin Laden, often liken the United States to Byzantium, which for long thwarted the caliphate’s expansionist designs into Christendom, makes Obama’s choice of verse — “be[ing] with the truthful” — further ironic.
Speaking of infidels and irony, here is a more recent, a more comical, anecdote: On September 11, 2009, NPR ran a story called “For NYC Muslims, a New Kind of Police Attention,” which tells of how “the NYPD hosts an annual Ramadan program, during which the police get to know members of the Muslim community and Muslims are free to speak their minds.” Lest the theme of this story eludes you, words such as “outreach,” “diversity,” and “building bridges” predominate.
Here’s the problem (first brought to my attention by the Washington Times’ Diana West): In the audio version of this report (around 0:25-0:50), the NPR narrator says that “there was not an empty seat to be had at the NYPD’s auditorium at One Police Plaza. NYPD brass, Muslim clerics, and community members all stood and listened to the cadences of the call to prayer from the NYPD’s imam,” Khalid Latif. While this is being said, you can hear part of the imam’s Arabic recitation from the Koran in the background.
The narrator’s enthusiastic talk of NYPD brass standing in awe of the “cadences of the call” makes it difficult to discern exactly which verse is being recited. Only the last few words — qawm al-kaffirin, “nation of infidels” — are crystal clear, raising red flags. Thanks to my trusty Arabic Koranic concordance, I have placed this phrase as part of Koran 2:286, which supplicates Allah “to make us [Muslims] victorious over the nation of infidels.” Bear in mind that, from an Islamist point of view, the United States is the “nation of infidels” par excellence.
And there it is: From an American president who publicly defines his mission by quoting a jihadi-related verse, to American-Muslim leaders who publicly pray for the subjugation of non-Muslims (in the middle of an NYPD auditorium, no less), it is clear that the ultimate threat comes more from Western carelessness and indifference — in a word, naivety — than it does from active Islamist machinations. In short, Islamists peddling misleading interpretations for the word “jihad” is but the very tip of the iceberg.