Fighting terror a battle between good and evil: Trump

Fighting terror a battle between good and evil: Trump

Riyadh - Trump, who has been accused of anti-Islamic rhetoric in the past, will also extend a hand by insisting that "this is not a battle between different faiths".


Published: Mon 22 May 2017, 6:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 May 2017, 7:57 PM

President Donald Trump called on Middle Eastern leaders to combat a "crisis of extremism" emanating from the region, casting the fight against terrorism as a "battle between good and evil", not a clash between the West and Islam.

Trump's address Sunday was the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop overseas as president. During a meeting of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, he sought to chart a new course for America's role in the region, one aimed squarely on rooting out terrorism, with less focus on promoting human rights and democratic reforms.

"We are not here to lecture -- we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship," Trump said, speaking in an ornate, multi-chandeliered room. "Instead, we are here to offer partnership -- based on shared interests and values -- to pursue a better future for us all."

Quotes form his speech:

> Thank you, God bless you, God bless your countries, and God bless the United States of America
> Join me to fight together, because united we cannot fail. Nobody, absolutely nobody can beat us
> More suffering, more death, more despair if we don't act now against terror
> Those souls look for justice when they look at us
> Nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria
> Nations here will sign an agreement to cut financing to terror organisations
> We must also cut off financial channels to terrorists
> Nations must deny their territory to terrorists
> America seeks peace, not war
> Our enemies will never doubt our determination
> Better feature only possible if you drive out extremists
> Terror has spread all across the world, but the fight has to begin right here, on this sacred land
> This is the battle between good and evil
> We will be judged by God if we don't stand against terror
> Saudi is home to one of the holiest sites of the world's religions
> More than 95% victims of terror are Muslims
> This is the beginning of the end of those who practice terror
> Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free of violence
> We are here to offer partnership, not tell people how to worship
> Gratitude to King Salman for leadership, and fight against extremism
> Investment in Gulf region will protect the safety of our people
> Trip to the heart of the Muslim world for friendship
Even as the president pledged to work alongside Middle Eastern nations, he put the onus for combatting terrorism on the region. Bellowing into the microphone, he implored Muslim leaders to aggressively fight extremists: "Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities."

The president has been enthusiastically embraced in Riyadh, where the ruling royal family has welcomed his tougher stance on Iran, its regional foe.

Trump slammed Iran for spreading "destruction and chaos" throughout the region.

For Trump, the visit has been a welcome escape from the crush of controversies that have consumed his administration in recent weeks. He's been besieged by a series of revelations about the ongoing federal investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russia and his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia also served as something of a reset with the region following his presidential campaign, which was frequently punctured by bouts of anti-Islamic rhetoric.

And only a week after taking office, he signed an executive order to ban immigrants from seven countries -- Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen -- from entering the US, a decision that sparked widespread protests at the nation's airports and demonstrations outside the White House.

That ban was blocked by the courts. A second order, which dropped Iraq from the list, is tied up in federal court and the federal government is appealing.

But on Sunday, Trump was full of praise for Muslim world's history and culture. He declared Islam "one of the world's great faiths".

White House officials said they considered Trump's address to be a counterweight to President Barack Obama's debut speech to the Muslim world in 2009 in Cairo.

Obama called for understanding and acknowledged some of America's missteps in the region. That speech was denounced by many Republicans and criticized by a number of the United States' Middle East allies as being a sort of apology.

Trump's speech came amid a renewed courtship of the United States' Arab allies. Trump held individual meetings with leaders of several nations, including Egypt and Qatar, before participating in a round-table with the Gulf Cooperation Council and joining Saudi King Salman in opening Riyadh's new anti-terrorism center.

A Sunday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi underscored the kinship, with Trump saluting his counterpart on the April release of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi, who had been detained in the country for nearly three years.

El-Sissi invited Trump to visit him in Egypt, adding, "You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible." As the participants laughed, Trump responded: "I agree."

The president then complimented el-Sissi's choice of footwear, telling his Egyptian counterpart "Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes" after their brief remarks to the press.

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