Attempts to avoid touching on religious dimension of the struggle has led to several recent high-profile administration gaffes. President Obama strangely tried to deflect the issue at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5 by mentioning the Crusades as an example of Christian excess. Unfortunately, that example is also a key jihadist talking point.
In an interview published days later, Obama downplayed the religious aspect of a terrorist attack on a kosher deli in Paris that specifically targeted French Jews, saying the perpetrator "randomly (shot) a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris." Administration spokespeople compounded the problem byreinforcing the idea that this was not an anti-Semitic attack, before later backtracking by tweet.
The White House made a similar blunder in a statement condemning last week's ISIL beaheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, referring to them only as "Egyptian citizens" and stressing that ISIL attacks are "unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity." In fact, this act of slaughter was very specifically focused on faith; the title of the ISIL video showing the atrocity was, "A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross."
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