"The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie and all of us —regardless of our faith — have a responsibility to reject it," President Obama said Thursday, at a summit on defusing violent extremism.
The statement echoes the president's remarks from Wednesday, when Obama said it's crucial to change the narrative about the intersection of religion, particularly Islam, and modern society. He called it "a generational challenge," as Eyder reported for the Two-Way.
Instead of focusing on Islam, the president and others have said at the summit, the U.S. and other countries should be trying to snip away at terrorism's ideological, economic and political roots.
"Nations need to break the cycles of conflict — especially sectarian conflict — that are magnets for violent extremism."
"We have to confront the warped ideologies espoused by terrorists like al-Qaeda and ISIL, especially their attempts to use Islam to justify their violence."
"When people, especially young people, feel entirely trapped in impoverished communities — where there is no order and no path for advancement, where there are no educational opportunities, where there are no ways to support families and no escape from injustice and the humiliations of corruption — that feeds instability and disorder, and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment."
Even before the U.S.-hosted Summit on Countering Violent Extremism began in Washington this week, the White House has been criticized for its position against using terms that directly link Islam or Muslims to terrorism.
Last month, Politico's Rich Lowry complained of "a haze of euphemism and cowardice" in a January article about the White House's stance, written in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.
That prompted The New York Times' Thomas Friedman to write, "I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn't coming out of their faith community."
"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."
Today, Obama said, "When people spew hatred towards others because of their faith or because they are immigrants, it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society in which they reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment — and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey."