WASHINGTON: A three-day summit, which begins in the US capital on Wednesday, will not link terrorism with Islam, says the White House.
“We are very, very clear that we do not believe that they (the terrorists) are representing Islam. There is absolutely no justification for these attacks in any religion,” a senior Obama administration official told journalists in Washington.
“You can call them what you want. We’re calling them terrorists,” said the official when a journalist said that extremists responsible for recent terrorist attacks were mostly Muslims.
Pakistan and India are among more than 60 countries attending the summit, which opens at the White House on Wednesday. US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are expected to address the summit.
President Obama will speak to the conference twice, first from the White House on Wednesday and again at a State Department event attended by foreign and interior ministers from 60 countries on Thursday.
Pakistan is expected to lay out its own national agenda before the summit, focusing on its sacrifices and efforts to combat terrorists.
Meanwhile, officials in New Delhi told reporters that the Indian delegation to the summit would focus on the threat India faced from Pakistan-based terrorist groups.
At a special briefing in Washington, senior Obama administration officials told journalists that the White House “Summit to Counter Extremism” would aim to unite the international community to fight extremism, without blaming any particular nation or faith.
One of the officials said the vast majority of Muslims had suffered huge casualties from groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda and they too treated them as terrorists.
In a separate statement issued on Tuesday, the US State Department said the summit would highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals to commit acts of violence.
“Foreign leaders, senior officials from the UN and regional organisations, and private and civil society representatives (will) discuss a broad range of challenges facing nations working to prevent and counter violent extremism,” the department added.
But senior Republican lawmakers have criticised the White House for refusing to single out Islamist extremists who, they claimed, were targeting the Western civilisation.
American-Muslim activists are also criticising the conference, saying that it would increase focus on the alleged Muslim involvement in terrorism and will increase Islamophobia in North America.
Published in Dawn February 18th , 2015