(Plainfield, IN 2/19/15) Today, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) issued the following statement after President Barack Obama's concluding remarks at this week's White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism:
"We commend President Obama for his strong statements in distinguishing the mainstream teachings of Islam as practiced by over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, from violent extremists who under the guise of religion, try to justify their twisted political goals.
"What these extremist groups look for is religious legitimacy and a manufactured clash of civilizations. They are goading America and Europe to demonize Islam and its Muslim minorities.
"Muslim community leaders and scholars in America and around the world have clearly rejected their religious legitimacy. The President's remarks make it clear that he will not empower terrorists and extremists by attacking Islam and Muslims.
"We also agree that the root of the problem is addressing the political and economic grievances that help fuel extremism overseas. However, our standing in the world will continue to suffer until we adopt a more ethical foreign policy that reflects the aspirations of the people who wish to be free and not the political regimes that often restricts such freedom.
"We appreciate the President addressing the problem of certain law enforcement agencies using community engagement as a cover for surveillance as well as the folly of targeting specific religious communities. You cannot build genuine trust and community partnership when you are abusing such trust by spying on them. The American Muslim community should be treated as partners not suspects."
"The 'Summit on Countering Violent Extremism' is a promising step in addressing the problem of extremism and domestic terrorism in America," said ISNA President Azhar Azeez. "While violent Muslim extremism is a serious concern, the summit should not just focus on it to the exclusion of other threats. According to a study just published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) entitled, Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism, the vast majority of domestic terrorism and extremism comes from lone wolf terrorists who are not Muslim and identify with the radical right. Muslim extremists make up only a very small percentage."