Obama: 'Our Most Important Partners Are American Muslims'

Susan Jones | March 28, 2016 | 5:22am EDT
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President Obama visits congregants at the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

(CNSNews.com) - "ISIL poses a threat to the entire civilized world," President Obama said in his Saturday radio address, as he explained what he's doing to counter the threat posed by radical Islamic extremism -- a phrase he refuses to use.

In addition to waging war and diplomacy, Obama said Americans, for their own good, must welcome Muslims into their midst:

"As we move forward in this fight, we have to wield another weapon alongside our airstrikes, our military, our counterterrorism work, and our diplomacy. And that's the power of our example. Our openness to refugees fleeing ISIL's violence. Our determination to win the battle against ISIL's hateful and violent propaganda -- a distorted view of Islam that aims to radicalize young Muslims to their cause.

"In that effort, our most important partners are American Muslims. That's why we have to reject any attempt to stigmatize Muslim-Americans, and their enormous contributions to our country and our way of life.

"Such attempts are contrary to our character, to our values, and to our history as a nation built around the idea of religious freedom. 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.

"I am a father. And just like any other parent, the awful images from Brussels draw my thoughts to my own children's safety. That's also why you should be confident that defeating ISIL remains our top military, intelligence, and national security priority."

Obama said the terrorists will fail, because "we will defeat them" with our values, our way of life, and our vision of the future.

Secretary of State John Kerry, interviewed on CBS's "Face the Nation," was asked if he is worried about another terror attack in Europe.

"Well, I think everybody is concerned, because for several years now, foreign fighters have been returning from Syria or from other locations and implanting themselves in the communities," Kerry responded.

"And this is the threat that we have all been aware of. We have been looking for additional screening. We have been engaged actually with the Belgian authorities for some period of time now trying to fill gaps that they are aware exist.

"And I think everybody is now geared up to recognize that the fight is not just in Iraq and Syria, but the fight is wherever those fighters have come from."

Kerry said it's part of the Islamic State's plan to "put people in other places." He said the attacks will happen, regardless of whether the would-be caliphate in Iraq and Syria is collapsing.

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