Terror summit: We are not at war with Islam, says Obama

obama-terrorRejecting contrived motions of a Western war with Islam, US President Barack Obama has underlined that no religion is responsible for terrorism and added that people are responsible for violence and terrorism.

After a weekend of violent terrorism in Denmark and Libya, more than 60 nations, including India, are attending a three-day summit on “countering violent extremism, hosted by the White House. Mr Obama, speaking at the summit, appealed that nations fighting against terrorism need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam.

Mr Obama said, “The world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people”. Those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda “are not religious leaders but terrorists.”

He declared that al Qaeda and the ISIS are desperate for legitimacy.

“They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defence of Islam. We must never accept the premise that they put forward because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders. They are terrorists,” said Obama.

In the backdrop of alarming growth of ISIS, the summit focuses on how to counter the behaviour that instigates marginalised individuals into joining terrorist outfits. In the three-day summit, which was started on February 17, both domestic and international interest groups have come together to scrutinise the current strategy to tackle terrorist groups.

India has been a victim of foreign-supported terrorism and domestic Naxalite–Maoist insurgency. R N Ravi, chairman of the powerful Joint Intelligence Committee, is representing India in the summit. “It’s a very full and very ambitious agenda to expand and deepen our global coalition to counter and prevent violent extremism,” a senior Indian official said.

The White House was careful to not single out any particular group as the main theme of the summit. The US officials noted the central importance of the conference is to focus on the root causes of extremism like socioeconomic and political exclusion.

The conference seeks to map out a strategy to prevent violent extremists from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups to commit tragic acts of violence throughout the world. The White House charted out a plan to counter extremism by building awareness, sharing information, countering extremist narratives through community led interventions.

“ISIL [the fighting forces of the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is the near-term threat that we all are focused on, but we also recognise in the United States there has been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so the agenda for all three days is to show a wide array of speakers and participants from all backgrounds who combat radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms,” the US official said.

Highlights of Obama’s speech

  • 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.
  • Groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defence of Islam but we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.
  • Of course, the terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God, represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.
  • Fighting terrorism will take time, this is a generational challenge.


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