At Summit on Extremism, Obama Defends His Semantic Choices Regarding Islam

President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. The president condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring Thursday that "no god condones terror." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015.   The president condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring Thursday that "no god condones terror." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. The president condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring Thursday that “no god condones terror.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

(Los Angeles Times) – President Obama has talked about the deadly dogma infiltrating some Muslim communities and decried the acts of terrorism carried out in the name of what he calls a “distorted” version of Islam.

But as he presides over three days of discussions at the White House about the fight against terrorism, he and his staff are studiously avoiding making their efforts sound like a religiously driven campaign against the faith of more than 1 billion people.

Officially, the meeting is a summit on countering violent extremism. Nobody at the White House is talking about “Islamic extremism” or “Muslim terrorists,” a semantic distinction that has critics up in arms but that the administration contends is necessary to deprive extremist groups of the authenticity they crave.

“We must never accept the premise that they put forward because it is a lie,” Obama said in an address at the summit Wednesday. “They are not religious leaders. They are terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

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