By Chris Perez
February 18, 2015
President Obama defended the “true peaceful nature of Islam” on Wednesday — saying terrorist groups like ISIS promote a “twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.”
ISIS prepares to behead 21 Coptic Christians -- or, as the terrorists label them, "people of the cross" -- on the beach in Libya
In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, the commander-in-chief provided a possible preview of a speech later at a White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, in which community leaders from across the country gathered to discuss how to protect people from “extremist ideologies.”
“The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam,” Obama wrote.
“We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.”
“This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day,” he added.
“It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.”
The president once again refused to utter phrases such as “Islamic terrorism” or “Islamic extremist” — instead referring to ISIS militants as “individuals from various religions” who practice “hateful ideologies.”
“Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,” Obama said.
“With this week’s summit, we’ll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.”
When describing the cold-blooded murder of three young Muslim students near the University of North Carolina last week, Obama explained that Americans of all religions must “insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.”
Authorities have claimed that the primary motive for the killing stemmed from an argument about a parking space, but the father of two of the victims called the slayings a “hate crime.”
In his op-ed, Obama said “we do not yet know why” the students were killed.
“We know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid,” Obama wrote. “Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning.”
The president says that while the US has “decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11,” the only way groups such as ISIS can be brought to justice for barbaric killings and ruthless acts is if the world can “stand united internationally.”
“We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem,” Obama wrote. “Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.”
Obama’s op-ed was a more carefully crafted version of a message that State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf tried to deliver Tuesday, when she drew fire for saying on CNN that jobs were at the core of the global terror threat.
“But we cannot win this war by killing [terrorists],” she said. “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s a lack of opportunity for jobs or …,” she trailed off.