President Obama echoed Wednesday’s call for unity in the global fight against violent extremism in his final speech before a White House summit tackling the issue.
After two days of talks with community leaders from across the U.S., the State Department on Thursday hosted a group of high-level international leaders as a part of the Countering Violent Extremism Summit. During his speech, Obama again called on leaders to dispute extremist ideology that claims the West is at war with Islam.
“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,” Obama said.
In the wake of terror attacks in Paris and Egypt, and ongoing battles against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the summit has largely
focused on extremist activities related to the Muslim community. The focus on Muslims has drawn ire from both conservatives—who say the administration hasn’t gone far enough to call out terrorism carried out through the faith—and American Muslims, who say the counter violence efforts being proposed will lead to further targeting and discrimination.
Obama on Thursday acknowledged that the targets of ISIS and al-Qaeda propaganda are largely members of the Muslim community and the terror organizations claim they are driven by Islam. He said that that countries had a responsibility, however, to lift up the voices of millions of Muslims around the world who actually represent the faith, and frankly, are just like everyone else. “A lot of the bad is absorbed,” Obama said. “Not enough of the good.”
Obama also said by confronting religious conflict, political, economic, and educational issues—all of which he said terrorists exploit in their efforts to recruit—countries can counter extremist messaging in a meaningful way.
The summit and gathering of international leaders piggybacks off of a call to action against extremism Obama made in September before the United Nations Security Council. Read next: Obama Urges Americans to Keep Calm in Fight Against Violent Extremism