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              Tourists ride in horse carriages past one of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. An Egyptian opposition alliance urged supporters on Wednesday to vote "No" in the referendum on a disputed constitution but said it may still boycott if its conditions are not met. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Jihad is ‘getting to a better place,’ says CAIR campaign

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

An Islamic-advocacy group linked to terrorism is launching a public-relations campaign to argue that jihad doesn’t mean Islamic holy war, but instead a “concerted effort … with the purpose of getting to a better place.”

However, the campaign, which is being launched Dec. 14 by an affiliate of the Council on American Islamic Relations, isn’t a formal religious declaration by United States or Arab Islamic authorities, and it does clash with orthodox judgments dating back 1,400 years to the beginning of Islam.

“It is [public] education about what we believe,” said Ahmed Rehab, who serves as the founder of the project, head of CAIR’s Chicago affiliate and CAIR’s strategic communications chief.

The views of jihad groups, Salafi activists in Egypt and of the Arab world’s leading preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, “are not the entirety of the story,” Rehab told The Daily Caller on Thursday.

Those orthodox views of jihad as warfare to spread Islam are being championed by a new wave of Islamic revivalists — including numerous jihadi groups, such as the “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad” terror group in the Gaza strip.

They also are being pushed by Qaradawi, whose weekly radio show has a claimed audience of 60 million. In 2011, he was invited by the dominant Islamic group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, to give a speech to thousands of Islamist supporters in downtown Cairo.

“I have hope that Almighty Allah … will also please me with the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem, Israel]. … May Allah prepare the way for us to preach in the al-Aqsa Mosque in safety!” he declared.

In contrast, Rehab’s “MyJihad” public-relations campaign portrays jihad as “a concerted and noble effort against injustice, hate, misunderstanding, war, violence, poverty, hunger, abuse or whatever challenge big or small we face in daily life, with the purpose of getting to a better place,” according to the campaign’s website, MyJihad.org.

The campaign will include testimonials, op-eds, bus advertising and visits to mosques, Rehab said.

“This is a whitewash,” charged Robert Spencer, the author of several books about orthodox Islam.