WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama, who has convened a summit on the threat of violent extremism, on Wednesday, defended the ‘true peaceful nature of Islam’ in a newspaper article. He wrote in The Los Angeles Times that while the United States has ‘decimated the core al Qaeda leadership’ and strengthened homeland security, the root of the problem remains. ‘Groups like al Qaeda and IS promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam,’ Obama wrote.

‘We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam.’ Obama notes how threats have evolved since 9/11.  ‘In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home.’ Obama writes. ‘We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians.’

Analysts noted that he refrained from using ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamic extremist,’ instead referring to the Islamic State as ‘individuals from various religions’ with ‘hateful ideologies.’ ‘This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day,’ he added. ‘It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.’ ‘Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,’ Obama said.

‘With this week’s summit, we’ll show once more that - unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death - it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.’ When describing the cold-blooded murder of three young Muslim students near the University of North Carolina last week, Obama explained that Americans of all religions must ‘insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.’ In his op-ed, Obama said ‘we do not yet know why’ the students were killed. ‘We know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid,’ Obama wrote. ‘Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning.’ The President stated that while the US has ‘decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11,’ the only way groups such as ISIS can be brought to justice for barbaric killings and ruthless acts is if the world can ‘stand united internationally.’

‘We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem,’ Obama wrote. ‘Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists - the propagandists, recruiters and enablers - who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalise, recruit and incite others to do so.’ Obama has asserted that the US campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for ‘hearts and minds’ and governments that deny human rights ‘play into the hands’ of extremists. ‘Govts that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. ‘Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies,’ Obama wrote.

‘Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity,’ he said.

‘Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,’ Obama added.

Obama noted that in Syria and Iraq, ‘the terrorist group has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptians.’

‘In recent months, we’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen. Elsewhere, the Pakistani Taliban massacred more than 100 school children and their teachers. From Somalia, Al Shabaab has launched attacks across East Africa. In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children,’ Obama wrote. Stating that with al Qaeda and Daesh peddling the lie that the US is at war with Islam, Obama said Americans have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define the country.

‘That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We’ve seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community centre in Kansas last year,’ he said.