President Barack Obama said the only way to combat radicalization is to challenge the view that Western values conflict with Islam.
"We are not at war with Islam,” Obama said Wednesday at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. “We are at war with people who perverted Islam."
The remarks came after a weekend of terrorist activity, with a shooting in Denmark and beheadings in Lybia.
"No religion is responsible for terrorism," Obama said. "People are responsible for violence and terrorism."
President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to speak at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Obama later told the Muslim population, “You have a place in America. You have a future. Ultimately, that is the only anecdote to this challenge.”
While stressing that the terrorist don’t represent the Muslim community, he did say there is a strain within the religion that rejects Western ideas.
“There is a strain of thought that does not embrace ISIL tactics, but does buy into the notion the Muslim world has suffered historic grievances, some times is accurately,” Obama said. “It buys into the belief that flows from the conspiracy, by the idea that Islam is incompatible, that it is polluted by Western values. Those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world, they are widespread. It makes individuals, especially young people who may be disaffected are alienated more rife for radicalization.”
Obama talked about a Valentine card he received from an 11-year-old girl named Sabrina who said she was worried about people not liking Muslims and said in the card, “We are just like everybody else.”
Obama said root causes of terrorism must be addressed, such as lack of education and poverty in the Muslim world.
“We have to address grievances terrorists exploit, including economic grievances,” Obama said. “Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist anymore that poverty alone causes, to become a criminal.
“There are millions of people, billions who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideology,” Obama continued. “Conversely there are terrorists who come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What is true is that when millions of people, especially you are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliation on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentment festers. The risk of instability grows. Where young people have no education they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas.”
Obama said “Some Muslim Americans have problem working with the government, particularly law enforcement.” He added that, “Nobody should be profiled simply because of their faith.”