“We must never accept the premise they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant them the legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders. They are terrorists,” President Barack Obama said at a 3-day White House summit on countering terrorism.
President Obama said Wednesday that he would refuse to recognize terrorists as Muslim extremists, or even consider terrorism a basically Islamic phenomenon, saying doing this runs contrary to American values and would only give extremists a cloak of legitimacy.
“And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he said.
Obama read the first Valentine’s Day card he got this year from an 11-year-old fifth-grader named Sabrina. He received the card before those of his wife and daughters.
The letter read: “I am worried about people hating Muslims. If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do. Please tell everyone that we are good people, and we are just like everyone else.”
“That’s our hope,” the president said. “That’s our future. That is how we defeat violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up, making sure she’s nurtured, making sure that she’s supported.” He added that America must remain “true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened, especially when we’re threatened.”
Obama also urged Muslim leaders to stop promoting the notion that the US is at war with Islam, because communities that harbor terrorists often become the victims of the terrorists. “Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are at odds with Islam, that there’s an inevitable clash of nations,” he said.
He also noted that “Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. Engagement of communities shouldn’t be a cover for surveillance.”
While the president was giving his speech, there was news of violence by the Islamic State terrorists whereby they were reported to have burned 45 people alive in Al-Baghdadi, Iraq, and even harvested organs of their victims.
“There are savage cruelties out there that need to be stopped,” Obama said in his speech. “There will also be a military component to this.”
Then he brought Sabrina to the fore again. “We are going to have to make it clear to all of our children including that little girl in fifth grade, that you have a place,” he said. “You have a future. We will stay united and committed to the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries, including the opportunity and justice and dignity of every single human being.”
President Obama said he has a three-pronged approach to dealing with terrorism: Combating the ideology of extremists, attacking poverty that helps set the stage for terror, and eliminating “political grievances that terrorists exploit.”