President Barack Obama just directly addressed his administration’s controversial hesitation to to call terrorists “Islamic” or “Muslim.”
In a Wednesday speech on violent extremism, Obama argued the US should not “grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek.”
“They are not religious leaders, they’re terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he said.
Conservative critics have repeatedly needled the Obama administration in recent days over its alleged refusal to acknowledge that Islamic State jihadists (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other radical Muslim militants are, in fact, Muslim.
“Say it, Obama: ‘Islamic,'” a New York Post op-ed demanded Wednesday morning.
However, speaking at the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism later that day, Obama said he simply wanted to stress that Islam “calls for peace.”
“Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw selectively from the Islamic texts. They do depend on the misperception around the world that they speak, in some fashion, for people of the Muslim faith,” he said. “They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism; people are responsible for violence and terrorism.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.