While speaking at an anti-extremism summit on Wednesday, President Barack Obama explained that the war against ISIS isn’t a religious one.
“We must never accept the premise that they put forward because it is a lie,” Obama stated. “Nor should we grant these terrorists the legitimacy they seek. They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists,” he said to applause.
“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
The president added that the terrorists do not represent a billion Muslims who “reject their ideology.”
“They no more represent Islam than any mad man 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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Obama also stressed the importance of support from the Muslim community – especially their clerics who play a crucial role in shaping the ideology of Muslim youths.
"Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam," Obama said.
A day earlier, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Obama insisted on the importance of fighting the psychological warfare by ISIS.
“We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem,” he wrote. “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 comments come amid U.S. intelligence reports that nearly 150 Americans tried to flee to Syria.