(SNN) – Speaking before representatives of 60 nations, President Barack Obama told delegates at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism that the US is "not at war with Islam - we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam".
The US President has come under fire for past speeches where he would avoid the use of the term Islam when referring to the terror groups Al Qaeda, ISIS and ISIL. This position had pundits debating whether he was soft on terror, in particular, radical Islamists.
President Obama Delivers Keynote Address at Summit on Countering Violent Extremism | FULL SPEECH
However, in what can be seen as his strongest language to date, Mr. Obama clearly stated that the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalize people. He advised that groups like the Islamic State were not religious leaders, but terrorists.
Mr. Obama's position is that these groups are using a perverted ideology by labeling themselves as Islamic, and recruiting people to their cause by identifying the West as being at war with Islam. The strongest message to take away is to not legitimize them as Islamic, as it only adds credibility to their cause. In his words, "...nor should we grant the legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists.”
Mr. Obama issued a call to the young generation of Muslims to lead their peers in being “the voices of peace, tolerance and inclusion,” reinforcing his position that the fight against terrorism will not be won by military power alone.
The strongest moments came when Mr. Obama stated, "Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam," clearly calling out for Muslim Imams here and around the world to be involved in the solution by preventing recruitment from within their mosques.
The conference was deemed a necessity as a result of increased Islamic terrorism as seen in Canada, Australia and the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France.
Although President Obama has now connected radical Islam with current terrorists acts, it remains to be seen if mainstream Islam will step up, take Mr. Obama's call, and publicly denounce the Islamic State as criminals that have no place in Islam.
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