WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Thursday said that the US and the West were not waging a war with Islam.
Speaking at the Summit on Countering Violent Terrorism in Washington, the US president reiterated his call for the world to stand up to violent extremism, saying extremists peddle a lie that there is a clash of civilizations.
“The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie,” he said at the three-day conference on combating extremism. “And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it.”
‘Sectarian conflict magnets for violent extremism’
Addressing representatives of more than 60 nations attending the summit at the US State Department, Obama said the world is “united against the scourge of violent extremism and terrorism”, and that the international community must remain “unwavering” in fighting terrorists.
“Nations need to break the cycles of conflict—especially sectarian conflict—that are magnets for violent extremism,” he said.
He said that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were not religious leaders, but terrorists.
“They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors,” he said. “They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
Obama called on Muslim leaders to help fight “false promises of extremism” and reject the notion that “terrorist” groups represent Islam.
“Across the region, terror campaigns between Sunnis and Shias will only end when major powers address them through dialogue and not through proxy wars,” he said.
Obama urged the international community to confront “the warped ideologies espoused by Al Qaeda and the ISIS”, especially their attempt to link Islam to extremism.
“The Pakistani Taliban has mounted a long campaign of violence against Pakistani people which now tragically includes the massacre of more than a hundred schoolchildren and teachers,” he said.