Govts that deny human rights play into extremists’ hands:Obama

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Govts that deny human rights play into extremists’ hands:Obama

Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process, says US President.

By (PTI)

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Published: Thu 19 Feb 2015, 2:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:45 PM

Washington - President Barack Obama has asserted that the US campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for “hearts and minds” and governments that deny human rights “play into the hands” of extremists.

“Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change.

“Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies,” Obama wrote in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times.

“Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity,” he said as the White House held its three-day summit on violent extremism here, which is being attended by officials from over 60 countries.

In his latest comment, Obama - who has recently touched upon issues of religious intolerance and extremism in a series of statements - said the US has made significant gains against terrorism.

“We’ve decimated the core Al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11,” he said, adding that at the same time, the threat has evolved.

“The Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered US citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.

“Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,” he said.

Obama noted that in Syria and Iraq, “the terrorist group has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptians.”

“In recent months, we’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen. Elsewhere, the Pakistan Taleban massacred more than 100 schoolchildren and their teachers. From Somalia, Al Shabaab has launched attacks across East Africa. In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children,” Obama wrote.

Calling for a united international stand, Obama said military force alone cannot solve this problem.

“Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalise, recruit and incite others to do so,” he said.

Alleging that with Al Qaeda and Daesh peddling the lie that the US is at war with Islam, Obama said Americans have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define the country.

“That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We’ve seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community centre in Kansas last year,” he said.

Groups like Al Qaeda and Daesh promote a “twisted interpretation” of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims, he said.

“We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid.

“Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” Obama wrote.


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