President Barack Obama says he refuses to call ISIS "Islamic terrorists" or label terrorists by their religious beliefs because he says we are at war with violent extremists, and not people of specific faiths.
At the White House summit on counter-terror measures Wednesday, Obama said there is "no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist" and that "There is no way to predict who will come radicalized," reports the Daily Mail.
"We are not at war with Islam," Obama said. "We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."
The debate over whether religion has any role in violent attacks was reportedly spurred by a statement sent to reporters on Sunday night by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that referred to the "despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists." Earnest did not make mention of the fact that the victims were Christians who were allegedly killed because of their beliefs.
Obama warned Americans against giving terrorists additional power by focusing on Islam because he says that will only help them recruit impressionable people who are willing to fight against a country they feel is at war with Islam, reports the Guardian.
"They propogate the notion that America, and the west generally, is at war with Islam; that's how they recruit, that's how they try to radicalize young people," he said. "Just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam."
Obama's speech coincides with a new CNN/ORC survey released Monday that found 57 percent of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling ISIS. In September, the number was 49 percent.