What makes Obama think that the Islamic State is looking to him for legitimacy? Where did he get the idea that any Muslim looks to any non-Muslim to legitimize his understanding of Islam? The Qur’an calls Muslims “the best of people” (3:110) and unbelievers “the most vile of created beings” (98:6). Does Obama think that if he refrains from acknowledging the Islamic roots of jihad terrorism, that some young Muslim who is considering joining the jihad will think again and turn away? “Oh yes, I was going to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State until I heard Obama say that they were un-Islamic.” Ludicrous.
In reality, most Muslims worldwide get their understanding of what is legitimately Islamic and what isn’t from Muslim clerics, and there are many, many Muslim clerics who support jihad terrorism. The idea that refusing them legitimacy is behind Obama’s refusal to call them “Islamic terrorists” is just a dodge, and plays into the hands of groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which makes ongoing efforts to ensure that Westerners are unaware of how jihadis use Islamic texts and teachings to justify what they do.
Which brings me to my next point: As we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the rhetoric of the terrorists themselves. I often hear it said that we need moral clarity in this fight. And the suggestion is somehow that if I would simply say, these are all Islamic terrorists, then we would actually have solved the problem by now, apparently. (Laughter.) Well, I agree, we actually do need moral clarity. Let’s have some moral clarity. (Applause.)
Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam. I refuse to give them legitimacy. We must never give them that legitimacy. (Applause.) They’re not defending Islam. They’re not defending Muslims. The vast majority of the people they kill are innocent Muslim men, women and children. (Applause.)
And, by the way, the notion that America is at war with Islam ignores the fact that the world’s religions are a part of who we are. We can’t be at war with any other religion because the world’s religions are a part of the very fabric of the United States, our national character. (Applause.)