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Obama talks of terrorism, tells US: don't blame Islam.

President Obama spoke to the nation Sunday night about the recent terrorist attack in California and made the main thrust of his address an appeal to Americans not to blame Islam and all Muslims for terrorism.

It was the first time he had made such an appeal, although many people-Muslim and non-Muslim alike-had urged him to tackle the Islamophobia coursing across the country.

Many believe Obama has been reluctant to speak out about Islam because such a large proportion of the American public believes that he is, in fact, a Muslim himself. The numbers vary by poll, but are usually in the upper teens.

Here is the full text of that portion of Obama's Sunday address that concerned Islam:

"We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight [against terrorism] be defined as a war between America and Islam.

"That is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world-including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology.

"Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim.

"If we're to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

"That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity.

"But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans--of every faith--to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It's our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL.

"Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes--and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that."

Immediately after the address, Republican presidential aspirant Donald Trump tweeted: "Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who?"

Among American sports heroes who are Muslim are, most prominently, heavyweight boxing champion Mohammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam in 1964. Others include the NBA's all-time leading point scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, boxers Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins and basketball greats Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Johnson.

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Dec 11, 2015
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