Obama omits ‘Jihad’ from name of turkey firm boss at Thanksgiving ceremony

U.S. President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey during the 68th annual presentation of the turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington November 25, 2015. © Carlos Barria
President Barack Obama spoke at the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning. While having a good-natured laugh about the presidential race and his critics, the president avoided referring to Dr Jihad Douglas by his first name.

The traditional ceremony of sparing turkeys the knife took place at the White House on the eve of Thanksgiving Day. This year Obama pardoned two birds – Onesta and Abe.

However, when the time came to thank the farmer who raised the two turkeys, and the National Turkey Federation’s executive committee chairman, an awkward issue came up: Obama referred to farmer Joe Hedden by his complete name, but neglected to refer to the chairman, Dr Jihad Douglas, by his – choosing only to use “Dr Douglas”.

This side-stepping of a name is thought by some to have occurred because of the obvious reference to the concept of ‘holy war’, perpetuated most commonly today by hardline Islamists and terrorist groups.

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The omission did not seem to bother people much, as the president went on joking about pardoning turkeys and this campaign’s Republican and Democratic candidates.

The tradition of pardoning turkeys was started by President Harry Truman in 1947, according to the White House.