Washington (dpa) – US President Barack Obama called Wednesday on governments and community leaders to confront the “twisted ideology” of terrorist groups like Islamic State and show that they do not represent Islam.
“They are not religious leaders they’re terrorists,” Obama told a three-day conference on confronting the threat of violent extremism hosted by the White House.
He stressed the US is “not at war with Islam,” but with people who have perverted the religion.
He called on Muslim leaders at the summit to honestly address misperceptions about Islam as well as the idea that the West is at war with Islam.
“No religion is responsible for terrorism; people are responsible for terrorism,” he said.
He called for increased outreach, particularly online, where Islamic State has been recruiting disillusioned young people and for economic and political grievances exploited by terrorists to be addressed.
The White House is hosting a three-day summit on countering violent extremism this week with the focus on empowering local communities to keep young people from joining terrorist groups. It has highlighted community efforts in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston that involve local Muslim communities in combatting extremist ideologies.
At a separate ministerial meeting at the State Department to discuss the immediate threat of violent extremism posed by foreign terrorist fighters, Secretary of State John Kerry said the execution of 21 Egyptian Christians this week illustrated Islamic State’s brutality.
“Rather than be deterred we have to be even more resolved to eradicate this kind of terror and rid the earth of this menace,” he said.