In a counter-extremism meeting last Thursday, President Obama told world leaders and religious leaders that the best way to stop extremist behavior is to promote religious acceptance.
This comes after more nations have begun to take part in the attacks on ISIS, and at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is beginning to rise in throughout Europe. While Obama’s comments once again stopped short of including language that accuses a particular religion of extremist acts, he has reiterated that the United States is not at war with Islam.
“No Religion is responsible for violence”
One of the lines from Obama’s closing speech that has attracted some media attention was “No religion is responsible for violence and terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.” Some people have praised this line of thinking, shifting the responsibility from the religion that is used as a front for terrorist acts. This allows there to be a distinction made between individuals who belong to a religion and those people who choose to pervert the religion for their own extreme purposes.
— Cobb (@Cobb314) February 23, 2015
Others did not find so much comfort in Obama’s words on the subject. These individuals believe that not attaching the individuals to the religion that they supposedly fight for will not motivate peaceful individuals to speak out against the negative elements.
Oppression Fuels Extremism
President Obama made a point of talking about how the best way to combat extremism is accepting the religion of people around the world. Specifically, he said that when people infringe on the human rights of others with respect to ethnicity, it tends to fuel violence and extremists. Therefore, the best way to combat extremism is to accept one another and make room for their beliefs even if a person does not necessarily subscribe to them.
Challenging The Muslim Community
Even though Barack Obama said that religion is not responsible for violence, he did ask that religions take responsibility for the people acting out in their name. Obama asked that religious leaders begin to openly denounce the works of people that want to kill others in the name of their religion.
In particular, he asked Muslims work harder to dissuade people from joining ISIS, a group that the president has said is brainwashing the youth through the usage of flashy videos and social media. This challenge to the Muslim community is a difficult one, asking a group that is often at odds with modernity to compete with a flashier brand of Islam. Still, many of the religious leaders took up the challenge and said that they will work harder to spread the word of the Koran for the benefit of their people.