Providing a contrast to Republican presidential candidates, President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address to tell Americans not to scapegoat the Muslim community.
"As we move forward in this fight, we have to wield another weapon alongside our air strikes, our military, our counterterrorism work, and our diplomacy. And that's the power of our example," Obama said during the March 26 address. "We have to reject any attempt to stigmatize Muslim-Americans, and their enormous contributions to our country and our way of life."
The president said American Muslims are "our most important partners" in combating domestic terrorism, and criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas' suggestion that law enforcement should step up patrols in Muslim neighborhoods, Reuters reported.
Without mentioning the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, Obama also rejected calls to prevent Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.
"Such attempts are contrary to our character, to our values and to our history as a nation built around the idea of religious freedom," he said, per Press Trust of India. "It's also counterproductive. It plays right into the hands of terrorists who want to turn us against one another; who need a reason to recruit more people to their hateful cause."
Obama was criticized for attending a baseball game between the Cuban National Team and the Tampa Bay Rays on March 22, hours after the terrorist attacks in Brussels. The president didn't address that criticism in his radio remarks, and instead focused on U.S. efforts to contain the Islamic State and other terror groups.
As he did on March 22, Obama urged Americans -- and their counterparts in Europe -- not to allow terrorism to change the way they live their lives. Responding to terrorist attacks with paranoia and xenophobia is playing into the hands of terrorists, who hope people in Western society will "give in to their vision of the future," Obama said.
"We've been taking out ISIL leadership, and this week, we removed one of their top leaders from the battlefield -- permanently," the president said. "A relentless air campaign -- and support for forces in Iraq and Syria who are fighting ISIL on the ground -- has allowed us to take approximately 40 percent of the populated territory that ISIL once held in Iraq."