Obama: We Must Never Accept The Premise That The West Is At War With Islam

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. Leading up to this summit there has been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge.

I want to be very clear about how I see it. Al-Qaeda and ISIL, and groups like it, are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam -- that is why ISIL presumes to declare themselves "The Islamic State" -- they propagate the notion that America, and the west generally, is at war with Islam. That is how they recruit. That is how they try to radicalize young people.

We must never accept the premise that they put forward. Because it is lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy they seek. 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. Just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the west and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict.

I also believe Muslim communities have a responsibility as well. al-Qaeda and ISIL do draw selectively from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith. That Islam is somehow inherently violent. That there is some sort of clash of civilizations.

Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful 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. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.

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