Mounting his political offensive against ISIS, President Barack Obama dismissed the conceit that the group is fighting from a religious perspective, labeling them instead as terrorists, who in no way represent Islam, according to a White House statement.
The president made the statement Wednesday at the White House in front of a group of law enforcement officials, and community and religious leaders during the second day of the administration’s first summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
ABC News reports:
“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,” Obama said at the White House. “We must never accept the premise that they put forth 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.”
“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” the president added.
The remarks come as the Obama administration is under fire from some Republican leaders for refusing to connect ISIS to Islamic or Muslim extremism. However, his aides say there’s a method to the president’s madness, according to the New York Times:
Obama aides say there is a strategic logic to his vocabulary: Labeling noxious beliefs and mass murder as “Islamic” would play right into the hands of terrorists who claim that the United States is at war with Islam itself. The last thing the president should do, they say, is imply that the United States lumps the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims with vicious terrorist groups.
Using tough language at home may end up helping the extremists to recruit more sympathizers to their cause, putting him between a rock and a hard place.
Meanwhile, a new CNN poll shows that most Americans are unhappy with the president’s handling of ISIS. The comments also come just days after the president asked Congress to formally authorize the use of military force in the ongoing war against ISIS.
The president said Wednesday that the key to beating groups like ISIS and al Qaeda is for communities to work with Muslim Americans to help fight extremist ideologies.
His remarks come as Republicans like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are raising questions about his foreign policy decisions.
According to Politico:
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
Guiliani’s heated rhetoric aside, do you agree with the president’s approach on describing ISIS? Sound off in the comments section.